French competition watchdog to examine extended Carrefour-Provera alliance

PARIS, June 21 (Reuters) - France’s Competition Authority will conduct a two-month investigation into a proposal by leading supermarket group Carrefour and Cora’s Provera to expand a purchasing alliance.

The investigation comes as the regulator continues to examine a purchasing and store-swap alliance between French supermarket group Auchan and Super U owner Systeme U to decide whether it would threaten competition in the sector.

The head of the watchdog, Bruno Lasserre, told a hearing before the National Assembly’s Economic Affairs Commission on Tuesday that it had received notification of a further alliance between Carrefour and Provera on non-premium products.

Cooperation on purchasing typically means retailers will benefit from greater power in negotiations with suppliers.

Neither Carrefour nor Provera responded to Lasserre’s comments to the commission.

The Auchan-Systeme U deal followed a flurry of alliances in recent years to cut costs amid a supermarket price war in France. Market leader Casino formed an alliance with Intermarche while Carrefour agreed a tie-up with Cora.

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Goodman