The Canadian minister assures companies of support after the failure of the Couche-Tard and Carrefour talks

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

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

Champagne said in its tweet that the government will support Canadian businesses “here and abroad,” adding two-way commercial benefits to businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bouchard, a self-made billionaire, took 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 decisive rejection of the deal sparked a flurry of transatlantic lobbying to salvage the transaction, but the companies ended their search late Friday. Le Maire reiterated his opposition without hearing the terms of the transaction, sources told Reuters on Friday and said any such deal should not be reviewed before the 2022 French presidential election.

Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker