(Adds comments by analysts)
ISTANBUL, July 16 (Reuters) - The chairman of the board at the Turkish unit of Carrefour, Europe’s biggest retailer, and its other Turkish board members quit on Monday in what analysts said may be a sign partner Sabanci Holding plans to sell its stake.
The stakeholders have both made public statements in recent months indicating dissatisfaction with the partnership.
Haluk Dincer, who is also president of Sabanci’s retail and insurance group, stepped down from Carrefoursa’s board, along with three other members, according to a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange.
“Since the resignations came from those representing Sabanci, there’s the chance that Sabanci will exit,” Kenan Turan, an analyst at Tera Securities, said.
“Before the end of the year there will be changes at the company. The Sabanci resignations may be preparations for (a sale of the Sabanci stake),” he said.
Sabanci said in February it was not happy with Carrefoursa’s performance and that it had mandated a bank to review its strategic options regarding its stake.
“Because we did not see the necessary support and help from majority stakeholder Carrefour, we realised we could not be of benefit and took the decision to resign,” Dincer said in a separate e-mailed statement.
Sabanci, a major Turkish conglomerate with interests in banking and energy, owns 38.8 percent of the chain, and Paris-based Carrefour owns 58 percent. Just 2.2 percent of the venture is publicly traded on the Istanbul bourse.
The move sent Carrefoursa’s shares 5.7 percent higher to 16.65 lira at 1310 GMT, compared with a 0.1 percent rise in the main stock index. The stock rose as high as 9.24 percent. Sabanci shares rose 0.3 percent to 7.80 lira.
Carrefour board member Thomas Huebner was quoted by Haber Turk newspaper last month as saying that the company plans to stay in Turkey but may change its partner.
Sabanci may still hold on to its stake, said Alper Akalin, an analyst at EkspresInvest.
“Sabanci may want to give a strong signal to the public about its dissatisfaction with Carrefoursa. The current management cannot continue, and there are options, including Carrefour exiting and both sides selling,” Akalin said. (Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley and Ceyda Caglayan; Editing by Stephen Powell)