At an EGM on Monday, shareholders voted to replace the two-tier system of a supervisory and management board with a board of directors. The new board gives more muscle to the grocer’s private equity investors.
The structure means that José Luis Duran – who has come under criticism in past weeks for the retailer’s decline in share price – no longer holds the dual role of chairman and chief executive. The chairman is now board member Amaury de Sèze.
When the structure was proposed in June, de Sèze said: “This simplification of our structure is a must to facilitate and speed up the decision-making process of a large group such as ours.”
Shareholders also approved three seats for Blue Capital, the consortium made up of Group Arnault, the investment vehicle of French investor and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, and private equity firm Colony Capital. Blue Capital, Carrefour’s largest shareholder, is represented by Bernard Arnault, Sébastien Bazin and Nicolas Bazire.
Planet Retail global research director Bryan Roberts said the move reflects the increased investment that private equity groups have in the business. “The previous structure was archaic and the investors wanted their opinions heard more. Carrefour has a challenge on its hands – not least with the global economic slowdown – and the investors wanted a clear grip on the strategy.”
Two independent board members were also nominated – former French Finance Minister Thierry Breton and BNP Paribas executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé.
The board also dismissed rumours that it planned to sell its operations in China and Brazil. There was speculation about a sale of its Chinese hypermarkets to Tesco and its Brazilian stores to Wal-Mart. Duran is understood to have said that both China and Brazil are key to the group’s operational growth.