(Adds official statement on family stakes in Esselunga)
By Silvia Aloisi and Claudia Cristoferi
MILAN Oct 5 The family holding company
controlling Italy's fourth-biggest supermarket chain Esselunga
said on Wednesday it would not go ahead for now with a sale of
the group after the death of its owner last week.
Ninety-year-old Bernardo Caprotti, who founded Esselunga in
1957, had started talks in recent months with at least four
private equity funds - including Blackstone, BC Partners
and CVC Capital Partners - over a possible sale for up
to 6 billion euros ($7 billion).
A note from the will executor said Caprotti had handed
control of Esselunga to his second wife and their daughter,
giving them a combined stake of around 70 percent in the holding
The note said another two children from his first marriage,
Giuseppe Caprotti and Violetta Caprotti, would receive a stake
of around 15 percent each.
In a statement, Supermarkets Italiani said its board had
decided not to "proceed, as things stand, with operations
related to its unit Esselunga".
Esselunga employs 22,000 people and last year posted sales
of more than 7 billion euros.
Caprotti, who died on Friday, had been exploring a sale
partly because he did not want to leave the group to his
squabbling children, according to sources close to the matter.
Caprotti's children from his first marriage, Giuseppe and
Violetta, had fallen out with their father, taking legal action
against him, alleging he had illegally taken shares from a trust
in their name in 2011.
So far the courts have sided with the father, though a final
appeal is pending.
Caprotti's other daughter, Marina Sylvia, sits on the board
Shortly before the founder's death, Caprotti's 55-year-old
son, Giuseppe, told Reuters he had always opposed a sale of
"We'll do everything we can to safeguard Esselunga," he said
on Wednesday, without elaborating, as he left the Milanese
notary office where the will was read.
($1 = 0.8932 euros)
(Editing by Adrian Croft and Hugh Lawson)