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Circle K owner Couche-Tard says in initial talks with France's Carrefour about combination

FILE PHOTO: The logo of France-based food retailer Carrefour is seen on shopping trolleys in Sao Paulo, Brazil July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

(Reuters) - Canadian convenience-store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc said on Tuesday it has initiated exploratory discussions with Europe’s biggest retailer, Carrefour SA, regarding a potential transaction.

There is no certainty at this stage that these discussions will result in any agreement or transaction, Couche-Tard said in a statement.

As of Tuesday, Carrefour has a market capitalization of 12.64 billion euros ($15.43 billion) and Couche-Tard’s market capitalization was $37 billion.

Extended work-from-home policies and a resurgence in coronavirus cases in several countries have led shoppers to stock their pantries and avoid dining out or ordering in.

In a separate statement, Carrefour acknowledged Couche-Tard’s approach to discuss a combination.

Bloomberg News reported earlier that Couche-Tard has made an initial approach to Carrefour, and a deal could help Couche-Tard diversify into the supermarket business and expand its presence in Europe. (bloom.bg/3buwHC9)

In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia through 10 units.

Couche-Tard entered the Asian market in November through a deal to buy Convenience Retail Asia Ltd’s Hong Kong unit for HK$2.79 billion ($359.80 million).

($1 = 0.8193 euros)

Reporting by Arghyadeep Dutta and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Additional Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Cynthia Osterman

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