France opposes foreign takeover offer for supermarket chain

PARIS - France’s government says it opposes the proposed 16.2 billion-euro ($19.6 billion) takeover of French supermarket chain Carrefour by Canadian convenience store group Couche-Tard.

Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne said Thursday on radio Europe 1 that she is “opposed to a takeover.“ That follows similar comments by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire who explained that the country’s “food sovereignty” is at stake.

“I’m not in favour of such a deal,” Le Maire said on television channel France 5 on Wednesday.

Carrefour is Europe’s biggest retailer and the biggest private employer in France, with over 105,000 employees in the country.

Under French rules on controlling foreign investment, the government’s approval is required in some strategic sectors, which includes food retail, Le Maire said.

Carrefour said on Wednesday in a statement that the Alimentation Couche-Tard group had approached it with a tie-up proposal and that talks are at an early stage.

Couche-Tard also confirmed it proposed an initial “friendly combination” at the price of 20 euros per share but stressed “there is no certainty at this stage that these discussions will result in any agreement or transaction.”
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