Kingfisher, the DIY giant company behind B&Q, is struggling to complete its takeover of French rival Mr Bricolage after bosses admitted the current owners may not want to sell.
Kingfisher already trades in France under the Castorama brand and has been in talks to buy its rival since April 2014, but the €275m (£202m) deal could fall apart after the majority of the Mr Bricolage board and major shareholder, ANPF, said they had “reservations”.
The deal is the first test for the company’s new chief executive, Veronique Laury, who formerly ran Kingfisher’s French business before replacing Sir Ian Cheshire earlier this year.
Mr Bricolage, which has 500 stores across France, had its shares suspended on the Paris Stock Exchange on Monday as the market called on the company to clarify its position.
Kingfisher said it “has been made aware that both the majority of the board of Mr Bricolage and the ANPF, a major shareholder of Mr Bricolage, have reservations in relation to the transaction but has yet to receive clarification of their positions. The Tabur family, another major shareholder and signatory to the agreement, has confirmed that they remain committed to the transaction. The implications for the transaction are currently uncertain. Kingfisher will update investors in due course”.
ANPF, which is a group of franchises which trades from 435 stores, was expected to sell its 41.9 per cent stake in the group to Kingfisher and the Tabur Family would sell its 26.2 per cent shareholding at €15 a share. Kingfisher would then launch a mandatory offer to buy the rest of the shares from minority shareholders. The news sent shares in Kingfisher down 1.5 per cent to 367.2p.
Mr Bricolage must inform the Paris stock market within 48 hours its intentions – by this morning – under the French market rules.
Although Kingfisher already has a strong presence in France, also running Brico Dépôt , bosses are keen on Mr Bricolage because of the high number of town centre stores, compared with the Kingfisher’s mainly out-of-town sites.
Kingfisher is keen to move into the franchise model but has clashed with authorities over Sunday trading laws.Reuse content