As expected, the last financial communication of the, henceforward, group Magasin Général, focused almost exclusively on this operation : buyout of all Promogros shares by the company «Med Invest Company» of the group Bayahi and Poulina Holding, a company in the Stock Market with a growing portfolio. All the brokers and journalists attending this communication had the same question «Why wait for the Group Mabrouk to buy the shares of Moncef Belhajmbarek in the capital of Promogro to buy afterwards ?». Tahar Bayahi will say that
«changing the Magasin Général will take time and competition helped speed up things». He will add that «not to be let down» he had to seize the opportunity of buying out. He will not admit that he had lost by missing the first “shot”, however, we know, through our own means, that the difference between the selling price of Belhajmbarek and the price of the Mabrouk when they resold, there was about 10 MDT. He will explain, later, that this operation will «consolidate the privatisation objectives [of the Magasin Général] by a sound situation in terms of competition [in the distribution sector] and will also ensure the everlastingness of the Magasin Général.
Tahar Bayahi, however, takes the opportunity to announce that the Med Invest Company (MIC) and more precisely the Magasin Général, «is preparing though this consolidation, the buyout of Promogros, the entry of a strategic partner partner». T. Bayahi will say nothing on the nationality of the company he is seeking, or on the time planned for his entry about which he says that it is «urgent and vital». We will understand, though, that this will not be about simply buying a franchise, but rather a participation in the capital, since the leader of MIC clearly mentioned a «strategic partner» !
Tahar Bayahi, who, again and again, mentioned competition when talking about «Champion» which will open a Supermarket in Gafsa and also Monoprix which was about to get 35 % in Promogros, was meaning not to make the link between these two competitors and the situation of sound competition he raised when he explained the buyout of Promogros. He will admit through a slip of the tong, when answering a question of one of the attendees, that «the decision was made for a hypermarket and we are getting ready, probably, with the strategic partner». This is, according to us, the sound competition between the, now, three distribution pools in Tunisia which are the Groups Chaïbi (Carrefour, Champion and Bonprix), Mabrouk (Géant and Monoprix) and Bayahi-Poulina (Magasin Général and Promogros). We know, on our side from reliable sources, that an application was submitted to the Ministry of Commerce concerning a third hypermarket in Tunisia. The name of another Tunisian group, namely Néji Mhiri, was circulating and the location should be in Sousse. We, however, suppose that if Tahar Bayahi announced a «decision made», officially and publicly concerning a hypermarket for his group, that he had had at least prior agreement from the Tunisian trade authorities. This is to be followed.
We should note, concerning this buyout of Promogros by MIC, that the operation cost 34 MDT to be paid to the group Mabrouk and that it will have a total cost of (after the purchase of the shares of the group Hamrouni and related shares) 83 MDT, that is 60 % of the turnover of Magasin Général. This latter will pay 8,5 MDT from his treasury, to participate. The remaining sums, should come from, with an increase in capital of 37,5 MDT from a « classical » increase in capital says Tahar Bayahi «with subscritptions rights». The remaining 37 MDT, the Magasin Général will get them in the form of short term credit «which will be amortised by means of the good results of Promogros », reassures the management of MIC. Bayahi remains optimistic on the prospects of the Magasin Général following this important investment of 83 MDT and adds that «2009 will be beneficiary to the Magasin Général, despite this investment and even without the subsidiaries». A small grey note though, there won’t be any distribution of dividends until 2010 ! A necessary evil !