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Carrefour, the second-largest retailer in the world, has denied a report that appeared in the British press over the weekend that its chairman, Luc Vandevelde, was negotiating a takeover of the company by the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.

The Mail reported that Vandevelde met with Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott in Versailles within last month, and said that “industry sources” were saying that Wal-Mart was considering a takeover of Carrefour.

It has been pointed out in the French media that Vandevelde has said that he wants to fend off any possible bid for Carrefour. In addition, any bid launched by Wal-Mart would almost certainly raise the ire of the French government, which got upset last month when it was rumored that Danone, a French company, night be taken over by PepsiCo.

Furthermore, any move on Carrefour by Wal-Mart would encourage competitive bids by other global retailers – the UK’s Tesco being the one most frequently mentioned as a likely suitor for Carrefour.
KC's View:
Our first reaction to this story was that someone was floating a trial balloon, seeing if he or she could stir up a little merger/acquisition activity by just suggesting that Wal-Mart might be interested in acquiring France’s largest retailing name.

Then again, maybe someone is in the hunt for Carrefour. After all, Versailles – where Scott and Vandevelde allegedly met – originally was just a hunting lodge back during the time of Louis XIII. Maybe this time Wal-Mart wants to bag a really big one.

But we doubt it would ever happen – if only because there would simply be too many regulatory and culture obstacles to overcome.