Monoprix Deal Reviewed by Competition Authority

France’s monopoly watchdog has expressed "serious concerns" over Casino’s plans to buy Galeries Lafayette’s stake.

PARIS — The French Competition Authority is taking a closer look at a deal inked by French department store group Galeries Lafayette and French retail group Casino, which would give sole control of Monoprix, the groups’ joint venture, to Casino.

The authority expressed “serious concerns that [the transaction] will harm competition” and announced “the opening of an in-depth examination,” which would take at least 65 business days.

A spokeswoman for the Casino group, meanwhile, explained that the group considered “the use of ‘serious doubt’ a legal term that is always used by the authority,” adding that the examination would “allow Casino to put forward its arguments.”

Galeries Lafayette had no comment.

France’s monopoly watchdog had already stated in a previous report, published in January 2012, that “the Casino group’s stake in Monoprix has brought its market share to more than 60 percent in terms of sales area, [which is] more than three times that of its competitor, the Carrefour group.”

This time, it said it would also examine “the question of competitive pressure” from so-called hypermarkets in the suburbs of Paris, which is of concern to Casino.

Galeries Lafayette, which has owned the Monoprix chain jointly with Casino since the year 2000, agreed to sell its 50 percent stake for 1.18 billion euros, or $1.46 billion at current exchange, in June 2012.