The French dairy group, Lactalis, has strengthened its grip on Parmalat by raising its stake in the Italian firm.
Europe’s largest dairy goods company is buying 15.3 percent of Parmalat, taking its overall stake to 29 percent, despite loud resistance from Rome to a foreign takeover.
With a turnover of some 4.3 billion euros, Parmalat is widely seen as an attractive target because of it dominates Italy’s liquid milk market.
Lactalis, however, says it has no intention of taking over the firm. Nevertheless, counter-measures are now expected from a consortium of potential Italian buyers ahead of an April 12-14 shareholder meeting at which the French outfit could win overall control.
Lactalis, the maker of President camembert cheese, has grown through acquisitions and in Italy also owns top cheese brand Galbani. Its greater share in Parmalat will give it a springboard for growth into new markets and broaden its product range.