Xavier Niel, the French financier and tech entrepreneur with a controlling stake in Monaco Matin (100 percent through NJJ Holding) and Monaco Telecom (55 percent), is one of three French businessmen with an eye on taking a leading role in the troubled Casino supermarket chain, currently under a form of financial supervision.

At one point, the Teract consortium, which includes Niel, Moet-Alexandre Zourari and investment banker Matthieu Pigasse, faced direct competition from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretensky, but in recent days there appears to have been a rapprochement between the two camps that could see a combined rescue operation.

Casino is deeply in debt, to the tune of about six billion euros, and its creditor banks are becoming anxious. Casino employs 53,000 people in France and Monaco and is France’s sixth-largest food retailer by market share.

Kretensky and Niel clashed four years ago for control of the newspaper Le Monde, according to a source speaking to BFMTV: “Relations have calmed down but both want control of Casino,” the source said. Each man controls 49 percent of the French daily.

Niel is best known in France for his ownership of the Free mobile phone network, through Iliad.

Xavier Niel, founder of Iliad, Free’s holding company, arrives for a hearing on the concentration of media ownership in the country, at the French Senate in Paris, France, February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier