The outlook darkens for Dia, which announced it wants to cut up to 2,400 jobs after reporting a massive loss for 2018 (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU)

Madrid (AFP) – Financially troubled Spanish supermarket group Dia said Friday it wanted to cut up to 2,100 jobs as it reported a massive loss.

Dia, the target of a public buyout offer by the Russian oligarch who is already its top shareholder, reported a net loss of 352.5 million euros ($399.3 million) for 2018.

The discount supermarket chain, which has faced stiff competition from Lidl and Mercadona in Spain, its main market, saw net sales fall nearly 11 percent to 7.3 billion euros.

The results were much worse than the expected four-million-euro loss expected by analysts surveyed by data provider Factset.

After the announcement Dia’s shares slumped 2.2 percent in morning trading in Madrid while the overall market was off 0.3 percent overall, before recovering to a loss of 0.7 percent.

“2018 has been a turbulent year for Dia, probably its most difficult since the company was founded more than 40 years ago,” the group said in a statement.

Dia said it planned “to cut a maximum of 2,100 work contracts,” although these still have to be negotiated with trade unions.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne investment fund, which has become Dia’s top shareholder with a 29-percent stake, launched a public share offer to take over the company on Tuesday given its “serious financial difficulties”.

The company’s shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value since the beginning of 2018 and have lost their place on the Madrid exchange’s main Ibex 35 index.

Management problems have also plagued the firm. In December, it named its third chief executive in less than six months.

The group’s debt also increased last year to 1.4 billion euros.

Dia has 6,157 supermarkets in four countries — Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Portugal.

According to the latest figures, Dia had just over 42,600 employees at the end of 2017.

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