UPDATE: Couche-Tard has confirmed that it recently submitted a nonbinding offer letter to Carrefour SA for a friendly combination at a price of $27.30 per share for a total value of $19.72 billion. The terms of the transaction are under discussion and remain subject to due diligence, but the company expects consideration to be mostly in cash.
The deal faces opposition from the French government, according to a Bloomberg report. The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of domestic control over the food supply, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. Carrefour and other grocers have faced surges in demand during lockdowns, with consumers clearing shelves of some items such as flour. “From this point of view, the idea of Carrefour being bought by a foreign competitor, on the face of it, I am not in favor of this deal,” he said.
LAVAL, Quebec, and MASSY, France — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and Carrefour SA, both of which have retail portfolios spanning the globe, are in “friendly” talks about a potential combination.
Massy, France-based food retailer Carrefour is a network of approximately 12,300 supermarkets, c-stores and other formats in more than 30 countries.
Bloomberg estimates the deal's price tag at approximately $20 billion.
“Carrefour has been approached, in a friendly manner, by the Alimentation Couche-Tard group, with a combination project,” Carrefour said in a statement. “Discussions are very preliminary.”
Couche-Tard confirmed in a statement that it “has initiated exploratory discussions with French c-store chain Carrefour SA regarding a potential friendly transaction, the terms of which are still subject to discussion,” the Laval, Quebec-based convenience-store company said. “There can be no certainty at this stage that these exploratory discussions will result in any agreement or transaction.”
In early 2020, Couche-Tard was a bidder for Caltex Australia Ltd., with a network of about 1,900 company-owned or -affiliated sites, including more than 500 Star Mart c-stores. The company ultimately suspended the bid because of the pandemic.
Couche-Tard's network includes more than 9,200 c-stores in North America, with more than 7,100 in the United States under the Circle K and Holiday Stationstores banners and approximately 2,100 in Canada under the Circle K, Mac's and Couche-Tard banners. In Europe, under the Circle K and other banners, Couche-Tard operates a retail network in Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia including more than 2,700 stores and unmanned automated fuel stations. And under licensing agreements, more than 2,200 stores operate under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories (Cambodia, Egypt, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macau, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam), which brings Couche-Tard’s worldwide total network of approximately 14,200 mostly Circle K-branded c-stores.