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Kepler suspends some supermarket coverage following 'intimidation' of analyst

Fri, 21st Aug 2020 15:01

By Joice Alves

LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - French brokerage Kepler Cheuvreux
has suspended some of its coverage of the European supermarket
sector after one of its analysts "received anonymous
intimidation attempts".

Kepler told clients analyst Fabienne Caron had been the
subject of intimidation for some of her publications on food
retailers, but declined to give any further details about the
nature of the intimidation or which publications were involved.

The brokerage, formed in 2013 when Kepler acquired CA
Cheuvreux from Crédit Agricole CIB, said it had for now stopped
giving its investment views on French supermarket operator
Casino and German group Metro.

Responsibility for covering Casino is being handed to Pierre
Boucheny, head of French equity research, Kepler said in an Aug.
18 note to clients. It had rated Casino "reduce", the note
showed.

Boucheny told Reuters Kepler had also informed the
authorities it had suspended coverage of Metro. He declined to
comment on when the broker would reinstate its analysis of the
companies.

"They (authorities) have been informed, of course, both in
France and Germany," Boucheny said. "We will see if it makes
sense to return the coverage."

A Casino spokesman said the group strongly condemned any
action of intimidation or threat against anyone. "We have noted
the change of analyst. We have obviously nothing to do with the
matter," he added.

A spokeswoman for Metro said the company values diverse
reporting about Metro and welcomes all analysis and publications
regarding the company. "We unreservedly condemn all attempts to
intimidate Fabienne Caron," she said.

Shares in Casino - which owns Monoprix and Franprix among
other supermarkets - suffered their biggest monthly decline ever
in July after it posted an underlying first-half loss of 87
million euros.

Metro said in August that a sales decline in its fiscal year
through September would be limited to between 3.5% and 5%,
because its business with hotels and restaurants had perked up
since May thanks to a gradual easing of lockdowns.

German regulator Bafin and French financial market regulator
AMF separately confirmed they had been informed of Kepler's
suspension of coverage of Metro and Casino. The AMF spokeswoman
also said the regulator is required to inform French prosecutors
of the situation.
(Reporting by Joice Alves
Additional reporting by John O'Donnell in Frankfurt and Matthieu
Protard in Paris
Editing by David Holmes)

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