Exceptional: Canada’s Couche-Tard drops $20 billion Carrefour takeover plan immediately after French authorities opposition, say resources

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard has dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.6 billion) bid to acquire European retailer Carrefour SA following the takeover approach ran into stiff opposition from the French federal government, two resources acquainted with the make a difference told Reuters on Friday.

A buyer empties his trolley in front of a Carrefour Hypermarket retail store in Saint-Herblain near Nantes, France January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

The selection to finish merger talks came immediately after a assembly on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard’s founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard, the resources claimed, talking on condition of anonymity as the matter is private.

Couche-Tard and Carrefour declined to comment.

Before on Friday, France dominated out any sale of grocer Carrefour on food stuff safety grounds, prompting the Canadian agency and its allies to mount a previous-ditch endeavor to salvage the deal.

“Food stability is strategic for our region so which is why we really do not provide a massive French retailer. My solution is particularly obvious: We are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite but it is a clear and remaining no,” Le Maire said.

Couche-Tard was hoping to get the government’s blessing by supplying commitments on each employment and France’s food items offer chain and by holding the merged entity outlined in both Paris and Toronto, with Carrefour manager Alexandre Bompard and his Couche-Tard counterpart Brian Hannasch main it as co-CEOs, just one of the sources explained.

The strategy incorporated a pledge to hold the new entity’s world strategic operations in France and having French nationals on its board, he stated.

Couche-Tard, encouraged by Rothschild, was also going to pump about 3 billion euros of investments into the French retailer which was operating on the offer with Lazard.

The proposal was greatly backed by Carrefour which employs 105,000 employees in France, its greatest market place, building it the country’s most important non-public-sector employer.

France’s rejection of the offer a lot less than 24 hours immediately after talks had been confirmed sparked grumbling in some small business circles above how French President Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, is turning away overseas financial investment.

Some politicians and bankers explained the pushback could tarnish Macron’s pro-business image, whilst other individuals highlighted that the COVID-19 disaster had compelled additional than a person place to redefine its strategic countrywide interests.


Amid a trans-Atlantic flurry of lobbying, Couche-Tard’s Bouchard – who began his comfort keep operations in 1980 – flew to Paris to explain the deserves of the offer to Le Maire, the source stated.

But the finance minister reiterated his opposition devoid of listening to the phrases of the transaction and said any these deal should not be revisited prior to France’s presidential elections in 2022, the sources said.

Couche-Tard in the beginning explored the risk of pursuing its provide in spite of the government’s stance on the offer, but later made the decision to increase the white flag and keep away from a political storm, a single of the sources reported.

A person Canadian government official, who requested not to be named mainly because they have been not authorised to talk to the media, stated that though it was comprehensible that the French federal government did not want the country’s premier employer to pass into overseas palms for political explanations, “one cannot accuse a Canadian flagship like Couche-Tard of endangering the overall country’s foodstuff sovereignty.”

Canadian Primary Minister Justin Trudeau, requested before about the prospective clients for a offer, stated he would normally be there to help Canadian firms be successful internationally.

Couche-Tard, which is mainly targeted on gas stations in North The usa, shelved a $5.6 billion buyout strategy for fuel station chain Caltex Australia in 2020 as gas demand plunged due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Carrefour introduced a five-12 months overhaul program in 2018 to reduce charges and increase e-commerce expenditure to contend with on-line rivals as nicely as domestic rivals this sort of as Leclerc. It has also expanded into advantage shops to minimize reliance on the major hypermarkets that nevertheless account for the bulk of its product sales.

With food stuff suppliers throughout the world benefiting from surging desire as extra shoppers stay dwelling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrefour documented strong 3rd-quarter success in France as nicely as other essential markets in Brazil and Spain.

CEO Bompard has continuously mentioned the retail sector was bound to consolidate and that his mission was to make sure Carrefour emerged as a winner.

($1 = .8282 euro)

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London and Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris Supplemental reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Steve Scherer in Ottawa Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall

Della C. Mae

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