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Société anonyme
Industry Industrial products distribution
Founded 1887 (1887)
Founder Frédéric Bohn
Headquarters Sèvres, France[1]
Area served
Key people
Richard Bielle
(Chairman and CEO)
Revenue Increase €3.58 billion (2012)[2]
Increase €280.8 million (2012)[2]
Profit Increase €171.2 million (2012)[2]
Total assets Increase €1.19 billion (2012)[2]
Total equity Increase €818.9 million (2012)[2]
Number of employees
Parent Toyota Tsusho Corporation

CFAO is a multinational company engaged in the sale of manufactured goods, especially automobiles and pharmaceutical products. It has operations in Africa and France's former colonies and overseas territories.[1][4] It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation.


The Compagnie Française de l'Afrique Occidentale (CFAO) was founded in 1887 by Frédéric Bohn.[5][6][7][8] It was created from the shipping company owned by his father in law, Charles-Auguste Verminck, the Établissements Verminck, centred on Marseille.[5][8] Initially continued business operations that were being carried on, trading with groundnut,[9] leather, soap, rubber and other products,[8] but soon adopted the pattern of rivals French colonial trading houses, with a management structure composed of non-African employees (mostly French) and a retail location network (in the major transatlantic ports) with exchange sites (called factoreries) located on rivers-banks and the hinterland.[10] CFAO expanded into Senegal,[8] then into Sierra Leone to exploit its rich production of palm kernels and obtain oil. Its main rival at the time was another French company, the Société Commerciale de l'Ouest Africain (SCOA), founded in 1905 by dissident managers of CFAO.[10]

However, the main goal soon became to compete for the market share of the powerful British colonial companies, taking advantage of the 1898 free trade agreement, which included the Niger River and its basin. CFAO entered slowly in the Gulf of Guinea, gaining ground in Nigeria and Ghana and clashing with the English and Dutch operations. In 1909, the company settled a branch in the Gold Coast (Ghana), where an important cocoa production was developing. The company followed an open strategy, receiving supplies from companies of different countries and establishing purchase locations for products to sell in Africa throughout Europe, for example in England, where it focused its operations in Manchester. In 1911, CFAO sealed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company’s French subsidiary and began selling Ford automobiles in sub-Saharan Africa,[10] although car sales was not one of its core activities until mid-century.[8] At the same time, it also signed an agreement (1911) with the American firm Texaco for petroleum products. During the 20s and 30s, the company opened subsidiaries in Cameroon, Gabon, Togo and the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo.[11] In the 50s, it won the exclusive distribution of several American manufactured goods, such as International Harvester's agricultural machinery, Remington's office equipment and Otis' elevators.[10]

In 1990, the company was purchased by Pinault (later PPR).[7] Soon after, it started to sell pharmaceutic products.[8] In 1996, it purchased its historic rival, SCOA, integrating its pharmaceuticals distribution division, Eurapharma.[11]

In 2009, PPR sold through an IPO shares equivalent to CFAO's 50.39 percent stake, collecting 806 million euros. BNP Paribas, Calyon, Goldman Sachs International and Société Générale acted as Global Coordinators, Joint Lead Managers and Joint Bookrunners. PPR kept a big amount of the remaining shares through its wholly owned subsidiary Discodis SAS.[12]

In 2012, PPR sold a 29.8 percent from CFAO to Toyota Tsusho Corporation with the aim of cutting debt and funding an expansion in luxury goods and sportwear.[13] Later, the Japanese company launched a tender offer, purchasing PPR's remaining stake and almost all public shares, taking control of a 97.91 percent by December 2012.[14] In December 2016, Toyota Tsusho Corporation acquired all remaining CFAO public shares and delisted it from the stock exchange.[11]

CFAO has locations in more than 34 countries and French overseas territories.


CFAO Automotive[edit]

It operates as a multi-brand car dealership in the African territory and several other places. It also distributes parts and tires.[1][4]


This division imports and distributes pharmaceutical products.[1][4]

CFAO Industries, Equipment, and Services[edit]

It is responsible for bottling beverages; developing and manufacturing plastics; design, construction and maintenance of IT networks; distribution of construction machineryr and generators; installation and maintenance of elevators.[1][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Profile: CFAO S.A.". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Annual results and Q4 sales 2012" (PDF). CFAO. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "2011 Annual Report" (PDF). CFAO. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Company Profile: CFAO S.A.". Reuters. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "History of Compagnie Française de l'Afrique Occidentale". Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Malon, Claude (2006). Le Havre colonial de 1880 à 1960 [Colonial Le Havre from 1880 to 1960] (in French). Publications des universités de Rouen et du Havre. p. 394. ISBN 2877754081. 
  7. ^ a b Lemarchand, Philippe (1994). L'Afrique et l'Europe: Atlas du XXe siècle [Africa and Europe:20th Century Atlas] (in French) (2 ed.). Editions Complexe. pp. 83–84. ISBN 2870275188. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Guillaume, Gilles (23 November 2009). "CFAO-De l'arachide à l'auto, une page de l'histoire de l'Afrique" [CFAO - From peanut to automobile, a page in Africa's History]. (in French). Reuters. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Tourte, René. "Volume III, explorateurs et marchands à la recherche de l'Eldorado africain, 1800 – 1885 / 1890" [Volume III, explorers and traders in search of the African Eldorado 1800−1885/1890] (PDF). Histoire de la recherche agricole en Afrique Tropicale Francophone (in French). FAO. p. 214. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d Bonin, Hubert (2009), "The international scope of the French trading house CFAO (1900-1970)", Session African Business History of the World Economic History Association, Utrecht (DOC), Hubert Bonin Website 
  11. ^ a b c "History". CFAO. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Ku, Daisy; Laurent, Lionel (2 December 2009). "PPR raises $1.22 billion in CFAO IPO". Reuters. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Regan, James; Berton, Elena (26 July 2012). "PPR sells stake in CFAO as seeks to cut debt". Reuters. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Toyota Tsusho Corp secures almost 98 pct of CFAO". Reuters. 24 December 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.