French minister opposes $20 bln Carrefour offer

'A clear and final no' from French finance Minister Bruno Le Maire... as he continued on Friday (Jan 15) to express France's stiff opposition to a possible near-$20 billion takeover of Carrefour by Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Le Maire told BFM TV that "Food security is strategic for our country, so that's why we don't sell a big French retailer".

Adding that "the no is polite, but it's a clear and final no."

That helped send the French retailer's shares tumbling over 4 percent though.

Carrefour, which acknowledged the approach to discuss a combination on Wednesday (Jan 13), had no immediate comment on Friday.

Convenience-store operator Couche-Tard's 20 euros per share offer has raised political considerations.

Carrefour is France's biggest private-sector employer, and continental Europe's largest retailer.

Speaking to Reuters on Thursday (Jan 14) Le Maire spoke of his concerns over selling it:

"I think that Carrefour is a very strong company. And I fully trust Carrefour to improve its model and to develop a new distribution model, but having Carrefour being bought by a foreign company would be a major difficulty for all of us."

The Carrefour CFDT union said that staff were "surprised and a bit worried" by the offer, which raised concerns over jobs.

UBS analysts said Carrefour shares were now pricing a low 20% probability of a deal happening.

Saying: "Clearly the forceful commentary from the French government suggests they can block the deal."

Video Transcript

- A clear and final no from French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, as he continued on Friday to express France's stiff opposition to a near $20 billion takeover of Carrefour by Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard. Le Maire told BFM TV that, "Food security is strategic for our country, so that's why we don't sell a big French retailer." Adding that "the no is polite, but it's a clear and final no."

That helped send the French retailer's shares tumbling over 4% though. Carrefour, which acknowledged the approach to discuss a combination on Wednesday, had no immediate comment on Friday. Convenience-store operator Couche-Tard's 20 euros per share offer has raised political considerations.

Carrefour is France's biggest private-sector employer and continental Europe's largest retailer. Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Le Maire spoke of his concerns over selling it.

BRUNO LE MAIRE: I think that Carrefour is a very strong company, and I fully trust Carrefour to improve its model and to develop a new distribution model. But having Carrefour being bought by a foreign company would be a major difficulty for all of us.

- UBS analysts said Carrefour shares were now pricing a low 20% probability of a deal happening. Saying, "Clearly the forceful commentary from the French government suggests they can block the deal."