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PARIS- French retailer Casino is selling 13 distribution warehouses to a fund controlled by Morgan Stanley for euros 201.5 million ($241.6 million).

A statement by Groupe Casino says that the warehouses, totaling 418,000 sq m, were being sold to Mines de la Lucette. Mines is 77% owned by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds. Twelve of the warehouses will be leased back by Easydis, Casino’s wholly owned logistics company.

Casino, France’s fifth-largest retailer and second-biggest quoted retailer after Carrefour, says the price obtained for the warehouses corresponds to a yield of less than 7%. “The transaction represents a further step forward in Groupe Casino’s strategy to value its property assets and refocus on retail property [store properties and shopping centers],” the statement explains.

The sale will be completed during the first half of 2006 and will be used to cut debt. Casino adds that the Mercialys IPO will have a positive impact on 2005 profit. Following the IPO, Mercialys has a market capitalization of euro 1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) and Casino has a 75.29% stake.

The group’s portfolio comprises shops that trade under the Casino brand and which will continue to be owned directly, shopping centers held through Mercialys, and investment properties like offices and warehouses.

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