Couche-Tard Plans $3.6 Billion Investment in Target Carrefour

Adhesive tape on out of order shopping carts in a Carrefour SA supermarket in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the Canadian convenience-store operator that owns the Circle K chain, is exploring a takeover of French grocer Carrefour SA, a deal that would create a trans-Atlantic retail giant. Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg
Adhesive tape on out of order shopping carts in a Carrefour SA supermarket in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the Canadian convenience-store operator that owns the Circle K chain, is exploring a takeover of French grocer Carrefour SA, a deal that would create a trans-Atlantic retail giant. Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. plans to pump 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) into Carrefour SA as the Canadian convenience-store operator seeks to defuse mounting French political concerns over the proposed $20 billion takeover of the French retailer.

Couche-Tard plans to spend that amount over five years, prioritizing investment over cost cuts or job reductions, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Carrefour shares fell as much as 5.2% after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday that he was prepared to give a “clear and definitive no” to the deal. He previously cited concerns about a French supermarket chain falling into foreign hands, saying the country needs to maintain domestic control over its food supply.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that the finance ministry is ready to study the proposal once the Canadians officially present it, citing people familiar with the matter who didn’t want to be identified. They said President Emmanuel Macron’s administration plans to take as long as needed to assess its impact on jobs and the sector.

Carrefour employs around 100,000 people in France and is the country’s largest private employer. The company has been implementing a turnaround plan under Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard that involves investments in online shopping and organic food. Analysts point to the absence of geographical overlap between the companies.

The investment plan was reported first by Les Echos, which is owned by Bernard Arnault’s LVMH. Arnault also controls a 5.5% stake in Carrefour.