Casino's Qatar Geant partner mulls finance options

Al Meera Consumer Goods Co. hoping to expand retail offerings in the region

Al Meera Consumer Goods Co , which recently struck a deal to franchise French retailer Casino's Geant hypermarkets in the parts of the Gulf, will explore financing options to fund its expansion plans.

Al Meera said on Tuesday its board had directed management to look at financing options, including borrowing and restructuring capital, and also hiring a financial consultant for the process.

The Qatari firm's shares closed up 1.16 percent on the Doha bourse after the announcement, at a three-week closing high.

In December, Al Meera signed a deal to develop Geant hypermarkets in Qatar and Oman as part of Casino's bid to boost its presence in fast-growing regions.

"They're doing a lot of expansion and are growing. They could look at a bond or additional equity to fund that," said Robert Pramberger, acting head of asset management at The First Investor.

"The JV with Geant will give them access to the private-label products."

The December deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, reinforces Casino's presence in the Middle East, where it already has a franchise deal with Retail Arabia to operate 10 Geant hypermarkets and Geant Easy supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Al Meera operates more than 20 supermarkets under its own banner in Qatar.

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