FRANCE - French retailer Carrefour is to offer 20% of its €24bn property portfolio to "strategic institutional real estate partners" and other investors, including pension funds.

In a presentation of its half-year results to investors, the retailer said it expected to raise €3bn via the partial flotation of Carrefour Property, a vehicle set up in 2000 to house its fully-owned premium portfolio across France, Spain and Italy.

This portfolio comprises 280 hypermarkets, 540 supermarkets, shopping malls and unspecified "projects", totalling 60% of the firm's property market value.  Stores make up €17—20bn of a portfolio estimated at between €20—24bn; shopping malls make up a further €1—1.5bn.

The initial public offering (IPO) will allow the retailer to maintain long-term and strategic control of the real estate subsidiary.

It is also considering doing the same with the rest of its property portfolio, although a spokeswoman for the firm said it was "too early to tell".

Carrefour created the vehicle seven years ago with the intention of spinning off its property portfolio. However, it was losing market share at that time, with underperforming operations in Korea, Mexico and Japan.

This recent rationalisation of its activities and the sale of additional failing businesses in Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, has cleared the way for a re-think on its property assets.

"The fundamentals were getting better so they pulled the project out of the drawer," said the spokeswoman.