Failed French grocery store deal unlikely to dampen ambitions of Canada’s Bouchard By Reuters

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© Reuters.

By Allison Lampert and Kevin Dougherty

MONTREAL/QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) – Political opposition that killed Canadian comfort retailer operator Alimentation Couche-Tard’s $20 billion bid for French retailer Carrefour (PA:) on Friday is unlikely to finish the worldwide ambitions of founder Alain Bouchard.

The low-profile Canadian businessman constructed Couche-Tard from a single retailer in Quebec in 1980 to a world community of comfort shops and gasoline stations with a market worth of $33 billion, with 66 acquisitions alongside the way in which.

French politicians gave a powerful ‘non’ to the proposed take-over, calling it a matter of nationwide meals security. Behind the scenes, Bouchard made a misstep by not giving an early heads as much as French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who was extraordinarily upset to study concerning the deal from the media, a supply conversant in the matter instructed Reuters.

Bouchard, 72, who served as Couche-Tard’s chief govt for 25 years till 2014, began in enterprise after studying onerous classes as a toddler when his father, a subcontractor, went bankrupt.

“Couche-Tard is a grasp at changing {dollars} spent on gasoline on {dollars} spent on meals and comfort retailer merchandise,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Meals Analytics Lab at Dalhousie College in Nova Scotia.

“You refill your automotive with gasoline and you then go get a sandwich, newspaper and cigarettes.”

However a world transfer towards electrical autos would ultimately disrupt that mannequin, Charlebois famous, including the Carrefour acquisition may be a manner for the retailer to diversify its technique.

Bouchard, the present govt chairman of the corporate, declined to be interviewed for this story.

‘A STRETCH’

The Quebec chain grew in Canada by means of the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties earlier than making its large break into the fragmented U.S. market within the early 2000s, buying first the property of Johnson Oil Co, after which Circle Okay Corp. As soon as, when a banker instructed he was too formidable, Bouchard switched banks, in accordance with an area media report.

Alain Bouchard is “an entrepreneurial hero, a self-made man, self-educated man,” his pal Mitch Garber, who headed Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, stated.

Garber does not purchase the French minister’s arguments, calling them “a stretch”.

“If Carrefour was making weapons for the French military I might perceive,” he stated. “They promote groceries.”

Regardless of the limitless quantity of acquisitions, the corporate has retained its entrepreneurial method to enterprise, a top-10 shareholder of Couche-Tard stated.

Couche-Tard has missed offers earlier than and regarded for extra.

Couche-Tard Chief Govt Brian Hannasch instructed Fortune in August “there shall be extra exercise brought on by the pandemic,” after the demise of a deliberate $5.6 billion acquisition of petrol station operator Caltex Australia in April.

Bouchard, who relaxes with opera and offers to the humanities and tradition, the intellectually disabled, training and well being care, retains some robust shareholder assist.

“It’s kind of of a head scratcher,” the top-10 shareholder in Couche-Tard stated, pointing to the minimal overlap by way of each enterprise mannequin and geographic area. However historical past is a information for buyers. “There’s undoubtedly a case to be made that these guys have an important, nice monitor file.”

($1 = 1.2732 Canadian {dollars})

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