(Adds GPA stake after transaction)
By Tatiana Bautzer and Paula Laier
SAO PAULO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Food retailer GPA SA sold 217 million reais ($55 million) in Via Varejo shares on Thursday, equivalent to 3.86 percent of the Brazilian electronics retailer's capital.
According to traders, the price of Via Varejo shares in the auction was 4.35 reais per share, below the initial 4.42 reais announced by the stock exchange.
One person with direct knowledge of the matter said Thursday's transaction included a derivative contract that would allow GPA to share potential gains or losses in Via Varejo shares over the next eight months. Broker Itaú Corretora worked for GPA selling the shares and broker Santander worked for the acquirer.
According to the source, GPA expects the new chief executive officer, Peter Estermann, to quickly improve the results over the next months and help share prices rise.
The Thursday sale is the first step in the strategy designed by GPA, which is controlled by France's Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, to divest from its 43.2 percent stake in Via Varejo. After Thursday's transaction, GPA's stake in Via Varejo fell to 39.36 percent. The company has tried to find a strategic buyer for the electronics retailer for more than two years.
After the conclusion of the transaction, Via Varejo shares rose and were up 2.6 percent in mid-afternoon trading, at 4.41 reais. ($1 = 3.9308 reais) (Reporting by Paula Laier and Tatiana Bautzer Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown)