Alimentation Couche-Tard renounces its takeover bid on Carrefour

A Carrefour supermarket, January 13, in Saint-Herblain (Loire-Atlantique).

A little tour and then go? The Canadian distributor Alimentation Couche-Tard, which coveted Carrefour, will not launch a takeover bid (takeover bid) on the French group. This is what Alain Bouchard, its founder, suggested to Bruno Le Maire, during a meeting on Friday January 15, affirms to World a source in Bercy. On Saturday morning, Bloomberg and Reuters confirmed that the suitor had given up buying the tricolor sign.

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Barely three days after the revelation of the discussions held in secret between the two groups, the Quebecer drew the consequences of the opposition of the French government. The operation at 16 billion euros had also received a mixed reception on the markets: in two sessions, the action Alimentation Couche-Tard had yielded more than 12%.

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Having come to defend his project in Bercy, Mr. Bouchard failed to convince the Minister of the Economy and Finance to reverse his opposition in principle. On the contrary, the presentation of the Canadian, insisting in particular on the necessary cost reductions with the creation of a central purchasing, confirmed Mr. Le Maire in his concern about “A considerable impact on employment and on the French food industry”.

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The same morning, Christiane Lambert, the president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), expressed her concern to the Minister. “It is quite normal that Carrefour, with 20% of food distribution in France, is considered strategic”, confirms the manager, for whom the risk would be that the brand becomes a “Hub for the importation of Canadian products” if Couche-Tard bought it back.

“It goes both ways”

After dismissing Couche-Tard, Mr. Le Maire explained it to Pierre Fitzgibbon, the Minister of the Economy of Quebec, unhappy with this blockage. “When Alstom bought the flagship of Quebec aeronautics Bombardier a few months ago”, or when Airbus was established in Quebec, then explained the Quebec minister to the press, these operations had been well received on that side of the Atlantic: “It goes both ways”, he warned. An exchange was also planned between the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Emmanuel Macron.

After declaring on Wednesday January 13 that he was « a priori pas favorable » Backing Carrefour to a foreign group, Mr. Le Maire was even more firm Friday morning on RMC: “It’s a courteous no”, he had asserted. Reason: “We do not sell a large French distributor” even as the pandemic shows the importance of this sector. “We were very happy when, in March [2020], during the first confinement, our distributors played the game and ensured the security of supply of the French “, he insisted, indicating that it was necessary “Learn the lessons of this health crisis”.

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