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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “French luxury-goods titan Bernard Arnault and U.S. private-equity firm Colony Capital are poised to become the largest shareholders in Carrefour SA, as the French company's founding family took steps to reduce its stake, raising questions over the future direction of the world's second-largest retailer.”

Now that the Halley family is stepping back from the company, it is expected that the new majority owners will push aggressively for changes in Carrefour. According to the story, “Carrefour would be a difficult candidate for an outright acquisition because of its size and because it could be viewed by the French government as a national champion and a company to protect against foreign ownership. Carrefour has been trying to rein in its sprawling operations and operate more efficiently so it can lower prices to compete better with rivals, particularly in France.”

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