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France’s Carrefour does not see Casino as an acquisition target

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France's Carrefour does not see Casino as an acquisition target 1

PARIS (Reuters) – Carrefour, Europe’s largest food retailer, does not see major acquisition opportunities in France and does not view smaller domestic peer Casino as a possible target, Carrefour Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard said on Monday.

“We do not see opportunities to strengthen ourselves in France. There is no Casino topic and there is no topic of massive acquisitions in France,” Bompard told BFM television.

Carrefour said last week it was “highly confident” it could accelerate its turnaround even without a merger with Canadian suitor Alimentation Couche-Tard.

“The Couche-Tard episode is behind us. The page has been turned. We are back on the offensive and we will continue to develop,” Bompard also told BFM on Monday

The deal with Couche-Tard, worth close to $20 billion, was killed off by French ministers who said the food retail sector was of strategic national importance.

“Carrefour is a magnificent company but not a ‘sovereign’ company. No-one can believe that the sovereignty of France hinges on the retail sector. Pharma, defence, these are sovereignty sectors but not retail. This argument is not the right one,” Bompard added.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Jason Neely)

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British Airways owner IAG boosts liquidity by 2.45 billion pounds

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British Airways owner IAG boosts liquidity by 2.45 billion pounds 2

LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways owner IAG raised total liquidity by 2.45 billion pounds ($3.4 billion), through a loan and deferred pension contributions, and said it continued to explore other debt opportunities to improve its finances.

IAG said that in order to clinch the deferral of 450 million pounds worth of pension deficit contributions due between October 2020 and September 2021, BA agreed not to pay any dividends to parent company IAG before the end of 2023.

Like all airlines, IAG has been burning through cash after close to a 12-month period with minimal revenues. It scrapped its dividend last April, and then in October raised 2.74 billion euros from shareholders to help it survive.

Countries around the world have tightened travel restrictions over the last two months in response to new variants of the coronavirus and it is unclear when travel will restart, putting further pressure on airline finances.

“In addition to these arrangements, IAG continues to explore other debt initiatives to improve further its liquidity,” said IAG, which also owns the airlines Iberia and Vueling in Spain and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, in a statement on Monday.

BA said it reached final agreement for a new 2 billion pound loan 5-year loan, which is partially guaranteed by Britain through its UK Export Finance unit, and would draw down the facility by the end of this month.

That facility was secured in December and also includes restrictions on BA making dividend payments to IAG.

Pension trustees also agreed to BA deferring monthly contributions of 37.5 million pounds, in a deal which included putting up property assets as security, and a suspension of dividends to parent company IAG until the end of 2023.

BA is IAG’s biggest and most profitable airline and the pause in dividends from it means it could be years before IAG shareholders see payments again.

That is unlikely to be a surprise for shareholders, given new debts taken on by the airline group, and the fact that travel is not expected to reach 2019 levels until 2024.

($1 = 0.7148 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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Canada’s GardaWorld to not raise bid for UK security firm G4S further

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Canada's GardaWorld to not raise bid for UK security firm G4S further 3

(Reuters) – Canada’s GardaWorld said on Monday it would not raise its offer for Britain’s G4S Plc further, appearing to leave the way clear for the higher bid lodged by rival Allied Universal to succeed after regulators ordered an auction to conclude the battle over the world’s largest security services company.

Allied has already bid 245 pence per share for G4S, whereas GardaWorld said that its earlier 235 pence offer was final and that it would not overpay. G4s stock closed at 269 pence on Friday.

G4S, which employs more than half a million people in 90 countries, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, while Allied was not available to respond outside of business hours.

“A successful integration of G4S, a 530,000-employee platform operating in 85 countries will require sizeable resources; addressing its issues will require greater investment and without satisfactory engagement from G4S we have been unable to complete our due diligence,” GardaWorld Chief Executive Officer Stephan Crétier said.

“There are better and less risky opportunities available to GardaWorld.”

Britain’s takeover regulator had stepped in to help resolve the battle for G4S by giving the North American bidders until Feb. 20 to make their final offers or go head-to-head in an auction starting Monday.

The move came after the suitors repeatedly extended their offer deadlines for G4S without making their offers final, thereby leaving room for revised bids.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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Rio Tinto executives say goodbye to 2020 with chunky payouts

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Rio Tinto executives say goodbye to 2020 with chunky payouts 4

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Three Rio Tinto executives forced to leave the company after the destruction of sacred rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia all closed off the year with substantial payouts, Rio’s annual report released on Monday showed.

Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who stepped down from his role at the end of 2020, received total remuneration of 13.3 million pounds ($18.6 million) under Australian accounting rules, up from 7.1 million pounds a year earlier.

Despite the loss of about 2.7 million pounds in awards following a board review into the blast, the sum, which includes the value of share awards that have not yet vested, was boosted by Rio Tinto’s strong share price performance.

Jacques and two other executives left Rio after the company determined their positions had become untenable after a backlash against a board review that originally imposed only financial penalties for the destruction of the sacred sites.

Rio Tinto’s remuneration committee, led by non-executive director Sam Laidlaw, granted “eligible” leaver status to the three executives, meaning they avoided stiffer financial penalties for the incident.

“In making the eligible leaver determination the Board fully recognised the gravity of the destruction at Juukan Gorge but was mindful that the three executives did not deliberately cause the events to happen, they did not do anything unlawful, nor did they engage in fraudulent or dishonest behaviour or wilfully neglect their duties,” it said in the annual report.

Rio’s iron ore head, Chris Salisbury, who stepped down in September, received total remuneration of A$6.7 million ($5.3 million) including termination benefits and unvested share awards, from A$2.9 million in 2019. Salisbury lost a A$1.1 million short-term incentive.

Head of Corporate Affairs Simone Niven forfeited 525,000 pounds in short-term incentives but received 5.1 million pounds, including 1.1 million pounds in termination benefits and unvested share awards.

Independent Rio Tinto Director Michael L’Estrange, who lead the initial board review, had a 46% increase in fees and salary. His total remuneration rose to A$227,000 from A$201,000.

Chairman Simon Thompson was paid 939,000 pounds, up from 934,000 pounds the year before.

($1 = 1.2695 Australian dollars)

($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin)

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