Canadian supermarket group Alimentation Couche-Tard wants to acquire Carrefour. Friendly introductory talks are already ongoing, both companies admit.
Double the size
Will a Canadian holding of neighbourhood supermarkets take French hypermarket group Carrefour off the stock market? If it were up to them, yes: Couche-Tard has already persuaded Carrefour chief executive Alexandre Bompard to hold exploratory talks. They are friendly talks, both parties emphasise. The aim is to reach an agreement.
Although relatively unknown in Western Europe, Couche-Tard's dreams are by no means unrealistic. The specialist in petrol station shops is worth some 30 billion euros on the stock market, more than double the 12.6 billion euros stock market value of Carrefour. The group has grown through acquisitions, including in the US and Europe since the new millennium.
Huge appetite for acquisitions
On the European continent, Couche-Tard (literally: late to bed) has petrol stations in the Scandinavian countries, Poland, the Balkans and Russia, among others. Most of these stores are under the Circle K banner. With the takeover of Carrefour, the group would now also be adding many other retail formats, in particular 2,800 supermarkets and 703 hypermarkets.
For the Canadians, it would also mean a sudden expansion into South America, as Carrefour also has a foothold in Argentina and Brazil. After several failed takeovers last year - Caltex in Australia and Speedway in the United States - the late-night sleeper is very hungry. And nobody likes to go to bed hungry.