SAO PAULO, Oct 24 (Reuters) - French retailer Carrefour SA hired two investment banks to prepare an initialpublic offering for its Brazil unit, according to a reportpublished on the website of business magazine Exame late onThursday.
The listing of its operations, including hypermarket brandCarrefour and wholesale brand Atacadao, should begin in earnestin January, according to the report, which did not indicate howthe information was obtained.
A representative for Carrefour declined to comment on thereport. In March, Carrefour Chief Executive Georges Plassatdenied that the group was planning a listing in Brazil. He latersaid he hoped to prepare a growth plan for the market by thebeginning of 2014.
Brazil has provided Carrefour with robust sales growth as itstruggled with weak demand in austerity-stricken Europe. Butrecent growth rates in Brazil have lagged the country's biggestretailer, Grupo Pão de Açúcar, which is controlled byFrench rival Casino Guichard Perrachon SA.
Carrefour is the second-biggest retailer in Brazil and itslocal operations are worth an estimated 15 billion reais ($6.8billion), Exame reported, based on revenue of 31.4 billion reaislast year.
Carrefour hired the investment banking unit of Credit SuisseGroup and Itaú BBA, a unit of Brazil's biggest bank, ItaúUnibanco Holding SA for the preparations, accordingto Exame. Representatives for Itaú BBA and Credit Suisse Groupcould not immediately be reached Thursday evening.