The French distribution giant Carrefour has been asked by the Canadian food group Couche-Tard for a "rapprochement", the two companies said Tuesday in separate press releases.
“The discussions are very preliminary,” said Carrefour, while specifying that Couche-Tard's approach was “friendly”.
"The terms of the transaction are still under discussion," said Couche-Tard, confirming that he would like to conclude a "friendly transaction".
This language suggests that Couche-Tard would not launch, for the moment, a takeover bid (takeover bid) on Carrefour if it ever encountered opposition from the French group.
"There can be no certainty at this stage that these preliminary discussions lead to an agreement," warned Couche-Tard, present in North America, Europe, Latin America through convenience stores.
These announcements came after information from Bloomberg.
According to the press agency, citing anonymous sources, the merger that Couche-Tard wants would take the form of a merger with Carrefour, which claims a network of 12,300 stores in more than thirty countries across the globe and employs over 320,000 people.
Such a transaction would be a thunderclap in the world of distribution where Couche-Tard still plays a minor role, while Carrefour is one of the major players alongside the American hypermarket giant Walmart.
- Billions of dollars -
Created in Quebec in 1980 with a single store, Couche-Tard has nevertheless become in forty years a global giant of convenience stores - called "convenience stores" in the French-speaking province - convenience stores with very extended opening hours offering a limited selection. of groceries, newspapers and cigarettes.
The group established itself in the United States in the early 2000s by acquiring smaller competitors, then in Northern Europe in 2012 with the acquisition of the Norwegian group Statoil, for 2.8 billion US dollars.
Couche-Tard has a network of more than 14,000 such stores operated under various brands, including Circle K, mainly in North America, but also in Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Most of these stores are associated with gas stations selling fuel.
Couche-Tard, which has more than 130,000 employees worldwide, made a noticeable entry into the Asian market in November by buying the Hong Kong group Convenience Retail Asia for nearly $ 360 million.
The price of a possible merger with Carrefour should amount to billions of dollars if the transaction were to take place.
The French group achieved a turnover of 80.7 billion euros in 2019 and posted a market capitalization of 12.64 billion euros on the Paris Stock Exchange on Tuesday evening.
Couche-Tard posted a profit of nearly 2.4 billion US dollars in its fiscal year lagged to 2019, on a turnover of 54 billion dollars.
The group posted a capitalization of 35 billion Canadian dollars (22.5 billion euros) on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday evening.
lo-jl / and / the