Blue Capital, the investment fund jointly owned by Groupe Arnault and Colony Capital, said Friday it raised its stake in Carrefour to 10.7 percent, making it the hypermarket operator's largest single shareholder.
Blue Capital, which previously owned 9.1 percent of Carrefour's shares, also said it would seek a third seat on the retailer's supervisory board. Last year, Arnault aide Nicolas Bazire and Colony Capital executive Sébastien Bazin won seats on the board.
The move confirms speculation sparked March 6, a day before Carrefour's yearly results, when its main shareholding family, the Halley's of France, revealed plans to dissolve a shareholder pact that guaranteed it control of Carrefour. The pact is set to be dissolved at the retailer's annual general meeting on Tuesday.
"Blue Capital's increased stake in Carrefour confirms its confidence in the potential for value creation and the strategic nature of its investment," the company stated. "Blue Capital, which will play a full role in the company in its capacity as largest single shareholder, reiterates its confidence in Carrefour's management in exploiting this value creation potential."
The hypermarket operator said net profits in 2007 grew 1.4 percent to 2.29 billion euros, or $3.15 billion at average exchange, from 2.27 billion euros, or $2.85 billion, a year ago.
Carrefour's shares closed down 0.8 percent at 45.87 euros, or $72.47 at current exchange, on Friday, giving the company a stock market value of around 32 billion euros, or $49.92 billion.