* Company changes statutes, bows to Casino’s demands
* Picks Strasser to fill new vice chairman position
BRASILIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Grupo Pão de Açúcar on Thursday approved the creation of a vice chairman position, in a victory for France’s Casino as it moves to reassert its control of Brazil’s largest diversified retailer.
Stakeholders unanimously elected board member Arnaud Strasser as vice chairman, according to a securities filing. Among the changes in statute was the creation of a corporate governance committee and the removal of a requirement for elected board members to own shares in the company.
Casino, France’s No. 2 retailer, won control of Pão de Açúcar in June, which was until then tightly controlled by Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz and his family. Diniz is Pão de Açúcar’s chairman.
Casino and Diniz fell out last year after the latter tried to merge the company with Carrefour without Casino’s approval. Carrefour is Casino’s archrival in France.
Casino, which first invested in Pão de Açúcar in 1999, is betting on Brazil as a key pillar in its strategy to expand in fast-growing emerging markets at a time of muted consumer spending in Europe.