France opposes foreign takeover bid for supermarket chain

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PARIS (AP) – The French government is opposed to the proposed € 16.2 billion ($ 19.6 billion) takeover of French supermarket chain Carrefour by Canadian convenience store group Couche-Tard.

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

“I am not in favor of such an agreement,” Le Maire said on the France 5 television channel on Wednesday.

Carrefour is the largest distributor in Europe and the leading private employer in France, with more than 105,000 employees in the country.

Under French rules on the control of foreign investment, government approval is required in certain strategic sectors, including food distribution, Le Maire said.

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

Couche-Tard also confirmed having offered a first “friendly reconciliation” at a price of 20 euros per share but stressed “that there is no certainty at this stage that these discussions will lead to an agreement or a transaction”.

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