In a sign of just how quickly global markets have turned, Carrefour SA shelved plans to spin off its real estate into a public company.
Carrefour's change of heart indicates that retailers' interest in capitalizing on the value of their real estate -- a popular idea in the first half of last year -- may be waning because of economic and credit-market woes. Carrefour in August announced plans to create a pan-European real-estate company, Carrefour Property, that would own 60% of its real-estate holdings and be valued at between €20 billion and €24 billion ($29 billion to $35 billion). The plan, which Carrefour devised under pressure from investors, was to raise cash by selling part of Carrefour Property.
"Today, the market conditions don't allow it," Chief Financial Officer Eric Reiss said in a conference call yesterday. Carrefour is the world's second-biggest retailer by sales, behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc.