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Horst Paulmann, Cencosud

"Chile: "The importance of being in the three Pacific countries is priceless"

Cencosud's president said he would continue with Carrefour's planed openings. He said that with this acquisition, holding sales for 2013 will reach USD 24,000 million.

While Cencosud CEO, Daniel Rodriguez, spoke to reporters in Santiago, the President and holding controller Horst Paulmann, explained in Bogotá why Carrefour was acquired.

"The importance of being in the three Pacific countries is priceless. This is a big responsibility, but most importantly is that we have Chile, Colombia and Peru. If someone thinks we paid high because we needed to be in Colombia, I have to tell them that this will be very beneficial to Cencosud shareholders," he said.

Paulmann said they had been negotiating since last Sunday in France. "This is the largest investment that a Chilean company has made abroad. It's amazing that while European firms have no where to get credit, we got the support of JP Morgan, who gave us USD 2,600 million in four days. With that, at 10 am, we went to Carrefour," he said.

He also talked about how negotiating with the French had been, he explained that "Carrefour grew in more than 30 countries with a strong recession and where nobody is buying. Thus, I had to look for solutions, and they said we had to sell, and they did in some European countries and in Colombia, it was the best decision they could have made," he said.

He added that "the new president, Georges Plassat, has his heart in the business, is a major grocer and will lead the company back to what it was. And he told me, now that I have a lot of money I'm going to buy a firm in Chile. You are welcome to do so, I said."

On what supermarket brand he will bring to Colombia, the entrepreneur said it would be Jumbo: "By contract we have six months to make the change and do everything possible to change it later, because it is not only the name, but the form and culture of the two companies, which are quite different."

He said he will continue with the plans Carrefour had until the end of the year. "There's a supermarket that opens December 1 and two that will open on November 15. We will continue with this expansion plan."

When asked about the sales projections of Cencosud, Paulmann said that "with Carrefour sales in Colombia, plus other sales from four countries, we have projected a total sale of USD 24,000 million in 2013. And if we go back and take a look at 2002, the year of the Argentine crisis (five presidents in a week and the peso devaluation), we had sold USD 1,000 million, next year we will sell more than USD 20,000 million, an extraordinary growth."

Source: Latercera

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