Canada's Couche-Tard to explore partnership opportunities with Carrefour, after takeover plan fails

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Jan 16 (Reuters) - Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) and European retailer Carrefour SA (CARR.PA) have decided to work on partnership opportunities after takeover talks failed, the two companies said in a joint statement on Saturday.

Couche-Tard dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.57 billion) bid for Carrefour after the French government opposed the deal, citing food security concerns. read more

The decision to end merger talks came after a meeting on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard's founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard.

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"Food security is strategic for our country so that's why we don't sell a big French retailer. My answer is extremely clear: We are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite but it's a clear and final no," Le Maire said.

The Canadian firm had submitted a non-binding offer letter earlier this month to buy European retail giant at a price of 20 euros per share.

"We regret to learn that Couche-Tard will not be moving forward with their investments in the French company Carrefour, but are encouraged by the news that Couche-Tard and Carrefour will explore an operational partnership," Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng wrote on Twitter.

The companies said they have decided to extend their discussions to examine opportunities for sharing practices on fuel purchases, partnering on private labels and distribution in overlapping networks.

"The discussed areas for cooperation align with our five-year strategic plan, as well as our commitment to strengthening our core convenience and fuel business and pursuing opportunities in multiple, related growth platforms," Couche-Tard Chief Executive Brian Hannasch said.

BFM TV reported earlier on Saturday that the companies working on the basis of "industrial cooperations" might enable them to bypass a French government veto that ended the deal. read more

($1 = 0.8280 euros)

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Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry and Louise Heavens

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