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Casino sinks after finance entity says it has not filed accounts

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Shares in France’s Casino plummeted as much as 15 per cent on Friday afternoon after a key finance entity told investors it did not file financial documents. The French supermarket group and its parent company Rallye have been under pressure this year after analysts and investors have raised fresh questions about the complexity of its debt structure and financial reporting. Casino shares fell sharply earlier this month after analysts at Bernstein warned that investors should be paying close attention to related party transactions involving mainly French franchisees. An official notice posted on Friday said that 2017 annual accounts for Casino Finance SA “have not, to date, been filed”. Casino Finance is the entity that issues the company’s bonds. A spokesman for Casino told the FT that the accounts had not been filed due to a “technical delay” and will be “deposited tomorrow”. He added that they will be available to investors online next week. Casino’s shares were briefly halted in the afternoon due to a volatile trading, after falling 10 per cent, and fell as much as 15 per cent after reopening. They have since recovered, paring losses and closing down 10 per cent at €27.31. Bonds issued by Casino are similarly under pressure, with a €750m perpetual bond dropping to 60 cents on the euro, according to Tradeweb, having begun the week at 75 cents. Analysts have voiced particular concerns around the sustainability of its complex, multi-tiered debt structure. Chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri — a stalwart of the French establishment — controls the group through three publicly listed investment holding companies, each with their own debts. Several equity research analysts pressed the company for more clarity on its financial reporting practices during a results call last month. The stock of Casino’s parent company Rallye was also halted on Friday afternoon. A €350m bond maturing in 2023 that Rallye issued at face value last year is now trading at 50 cents on the euro.