EU approves Carrefour acquisition

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carrefour European union Romania Hypermarket

The European Commission has cleared Carrefour's outright purchase
of rival French chain Hyparlo, following an investigation into the
supermarket's anti-competitive behaviour.

The world's second largest retailer Carrefour will now take full control Hyparlo's operations in France and Romania, after the EU's competition authorities found that the proposed merger "would not result in any change in the competitive situation in France."

Twelve hypermarkets in France and four in Romania will now change hands, as French-owned Carrefour works on consolidating its domestic hypermarket format and strengthening its operations in emerging markets.

At the end of last year Carrefour said it would take control of Hyparlo, its biggest franchise, having acquired a large stake in the company earlier in the year - but awaited EU approval for the deal.

Hyparlo is a success story in Romania and the global retailer was keen to extend its operations there after entering the market in 2001 with a single store in Western Bucharest.

Since then, Carrefour has invested over €140m, opening four more stores through its part-owned Hyparlo banner in Bucharest, Brasove and most recently in Ploiesti.

The company has defied all odds in its success on the Romanian market, recording a 64 per cent rise in sales last year following a consumer-led lending boom and the introduction of a wealth generating flat tax system.

But at the time of entry Romanian consumers were deemed to have low buying power, something which has obviously seen a radical turnaround.

According to reports in the Romanian press the massive increase in sales makes Carrefour Romania's second largest retailer, second only to Germany's Metro Group.

Strong performance last year brought Hyparlo Romania's total sales figures to €435m, and analysts predict strong growth will be maintained over the next few years.

In December Carrefour announced plans to double its store numbers in Poland over the next five years by investing between PLZ250-300m (€65-78m) on an annual basis.

More recently, the firm has pulled out of the South Korean market, and acquired stores in Taiwan through a Tesco store-swap deal.

It is thought the firm will redirect funds raised from the South Korean sale to China to continue a massive expansion plan, opening 28 hypermarkets in the region each year until 2008.

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