(Adds Klein statement, details)
By Tatiana Bautzer and Carolina Mandl
SAO PAULO, June 14 (Reuters) – Brazilian retail veteran Michael Klein and his family on Friday gained control of appliance retailer Via Varejo SA from retailer GPA SA in an auction, spending less than initially expected.
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In a statement, Klein said he acquired a 1.6% stake in Via Varejo in an auction on the Sao Paulo stock exchange on Friday. GPA, which has wanted to exit the investment, sold its full 36% for 4.90 reais per share, raising a total of 2.3 billion reais ($590 million).
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Klein, who was expected by market watchers to spend up to 500 million reais in the auction, spent only 101 million reais ($26 million). When combined with its previous stake of 25.4% in Via Varejo, the Klein family will own 27% and become the retailer’s largest shareholder.
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The rest of GPA’s stake was acquired by financial investors, mainly mutual funds, advised by XP Investments.
“It’s a big challenge ahead, but we will push for better outcomes as our family has always done,” Klein said in a statement.
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The family has been a significant shareholder in Via Varejo since 2009, when the Kleins sold appliance retailer Casas Bahia to GPA. Klein’s father, Samuel Klein, founded Casas Bahia in the 1950s
The sale ends a two-year struggle by GPA, controlled by France’s Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, to sell the appliance retailer
Shares rose to 4.97 reais at closing on the Sao Paulo stock exchange, higher than the auction price but down 1.4% from Thursday’s closing
Two sources with knowledge of the matter said Klein intends to appoint Roberto Fulcherberger as Via Varejo’s chief executive officer and Marcel Cecci as chief financial officer. Both asked for anonymity because the matter was private. ($1 = 3.8959 reais) (Additional reporting by Aluisio Alves Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)