Couche-Tard's proposed takeover of Carrefour opposed by French labour minister

16 Janvier, 2021, 12:40 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • More Global Expansion in the Cards for Couche-Tard?

Initial contact between the two companies came at the end of past year and Couche-Tard sent its first letter in early January, the source said.

Couche-Tard and Carrefour declined to comment.

Rothschild is advising Couche-Tard and Lazard is working with Carrefour, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

"Food security is at the core of the strategic challenges of all developed nations", he said. "The no is polite but it's a clear and final no", Le Maire said.

Couche-Tard on Wednesday made a non-binding 20 euros per share offer for the French grocery group, largely in cash.

Carrefour employs 105,000 workers in France, its largest market, making it France's biggest private sector employer.

France's rejection of the deal less than 24 hours after talks were confirmed sparked grumbling in some business circles over how French President Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, is turning away foreign investment.

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"I'm not in favour of such a deal", Le Maire said on television channel France 5 on Wednesday. It offered a very brief statement confirming it was in receipt of Couche-Tard's solicitation.

"Food security is a strategic consideration for our country and one does not just hand over one of the large French distributors like that", Le Maire said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked earlier about the prospects for a deal, said he would always be there to help Canadian firms succeed internationally. This would be new territory for Couche-Tard, which is mainly focused on gas stations in North America.

But this could be a plus in terms of preserving jobs, while a takeover could be interesting for Carrefour if it provided financial firepower for investments in areas like e-commerce.

Couche-Tard has a worldwide network of more than 14,200 stores and earned a net profit of $2.4 billion on sales of $54 billion in its last complete year.

With food retailers across the world benefiting from surging demand as more consumers stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrefour reported robust third-quarter results in France as well as other key markets in Brazil and Spain.

Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard has repeatedly said the retail sector was bound to consolidate and his mission was to ensure Carrefour emerges as a victor.

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