French government rebuffs Couche-Tard

Quebec-based convenience giant Couche-Tard has withdrawn its bid to acquire France’s Carrefour SA in the face of government opposition to a foreign takeover.

“Food security is strategic for our country so that’s why we don’t sell a big French retailer,” Bruno Le Maire, the republic’s finance minister, said this week. “My answer is extremely clear: we are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite, but it’s a clear and final no.”

Couche-Tard’s offer for Carrefour, which accounts for about one-fifth of France’s grocery sales and introduced the hypermarket format to Europe in the 1960s, included provisions aimed at pre-empting such concerns. Among other commitments, Couche-Tard pledged to invest in hiring French employees and to maintain positions for French citizens on the board of directors. According to CBC News, some critics in the French business community are concerned that the speedy rejection of the plan undermines centrist president Emmanuel Macron’s business-friendly credentials.