By Joshua Kirby 

The French government could block a proposed takeover of grocer Carrefour SA by Canadian convenience-store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. in order to protect jobs and France's food-supply chain, the country's finance minister said.

Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire isn't in favor of a takeover of Carrefour, he told TV station France 5 late on Wednesday.

Carrefour is France's biggest private-sector employer, and, like other major supermarket chains, plays an important role in food distribution, Mr. Le Maire said. "What is at stake here is the French people's food sovereignty," he said. "The idea that Carrefour might be bought by a foreign player--in principle, I am not in favor of such a move."

Mr. Le Maire underlined that the French food-distribution sector is subject to a law that mandates the approval of his ministry for such operations.

Couche-Tard earlier on Wednesday confirmed that it had made a non-binding offer of 20 euros ($24.32) a share for the company, valuing it at around EUR16.1 billion ($19.58 billion). Carrefour had previously said it was in "very preliminary" talks over a tie-up.

At 0854GMT, shares in Carrefour traded 7.2% lower at EUR16.29, after recording an intraday high of EUR18.10 on Wednesday amid news of the potential deal.


Write to Joshua Kirby at; @joshualeokirby


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 14, 2021 04:10 ET (09:10 GMT)

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