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Canadian minister assures businesses of support after failed Couche-Tard and Carrefour talks

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Champagne speaks to media at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke to Alimentation Couche-Tard founder Alain Bouchard and assured him of support for Canadian businesses, after the company dropped plans to buy European retailer Carrefour SA, the minister said in a tweet on Sunday.

Quebec-based convenience store operator Couche-Tard abandoned talks to buy Carrefour for $20 billion after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire raised concerns about food and job security. Instead, the two companies decided to work on partnership opportunities, they said in a joint statement on Saturday.

Champagne said in his tweet that the government will support Canadian businesses "here and abroad," adding the two-way trade benefits businesses both sides of the Atlantic.

Bouchard, a self-made billionaire, has taken Couche-Tard from just one store in 1980 to a global network of convenience stores and gas stations with a market value of $33 billion, with 66 acquisitions along the way.

France's swift and firm rejection of the deal sparked a flurry of trans-Atlantic lobbying to salvage the transaction, but the companies ended their pursuit late on Friday. Le Maire reiterated his opposition without listening to the terms of the transaction, sources told Reuters on Friday, and said any such deal should not be revisited before France's presidential elections in 2022.

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)