May 24, 2017 / 5:23 PM / 4 months ago

France's Fnac Darty CEO shrugs off talk of a move

* Bompard tipped as external candidate for Carrefour job

* CEO says “I am still here” when asked about Carrefour

* Majority of shareholders approve Bompard 2016 payout

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, May 24 (Reuters) - The chief executive of French consumer electronics retailer Fnac Darty on Wednesday shrugged off talk he was leaving the company, speaking at a shareholders’ meeting that approved his 2016 payout of 13.8 million euros ($15.4 million).

Alexandre Bompard, 44, is seen as a favourite among external candidates for the top job at French retailer Carrefour , sources told Reuters last week. “In nearly six years and a half my departure has been announced each quarter. You see it, I am here,” Bompard told shareholders when asked about Carrefour.

“I have a principle, I never comment on rumours. My best response is that I am still here facing you. My best response is our successes, my best response is our projects,” he added.

If Bompard were to leave, it would come at a crucial time for the recently merged group Fnac Darty.

Fnac, which sells books and music, won a bidding war with Conforama for control of household goods and electronics equipment maker Darty last year under Bompard’s leadership.

The merger created a French market leader with sales of more than 7 billion euros and a market value of 1.7 billion euros.

The deal was seen as an opportunity for Fnac to build scale to compete with online retailers, such as Amazon, as well as to create synergies in purchasing and other areas.

Bompard has led Fnac since January 2011. Fnac shares have nearly tripled in value since its stock market listing in 2013.

A successor to Carrefour’s Chairman and CEO Georges Plassat is widely expected to be disclosed before June 15, when Carrefour holds its annual shareholders meeting.

Sources said Plassat prefers an internal appointment to avoid an abrupt shift in strategy. Candidates include Jacques Ehrman, the CEO of property unit Carmila, and Carrefour Spain CEO Pascal Clouzard, who both joined forces to press for a dual candidacy, one source said.

Key Carrefour board members such as Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz, Moulin family representative Philippe Houze and LVMH head Bernard Arnault appear to favour an external candidate to lead a strategy rethink, the sources said.

At Fnac Darty’s annual meeting, Bompard’s 2016 payout was approved by 81.71 percent of the votes cast. It included 900,000 euros in fixed salary, 931,500 euros in variable pay and a further 12 million euros in bonuses.

$1 = 0.8945 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Edmund Blair

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