Italian finance police investigating possible insider trading and market-rigging involving food group Parmalat have reportedly searched several company offices in Milan.
Those targeted included French banks Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, US investment bank Lazard, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo and public relations companies Brunswick and Image Building, sources said.
The probe is focused on “several Italian players who have taken part in the takeover in various ways and who have headquarters in Milan,” one of the sources told the Reuters news agency.
Parmalat’s shares soared in value when French dairy company Lactalis started a takeover effort.
Lactalis, which is Europe’s biggest dairy company, bought an 11 percent holding in mid-March, then raised it to 29 percent late in the month.
It offered 3.4 billion euros ($4.9 billion), or 2.6 euros a share, for the rest of Parmalat in late April, a move that would create the world’s biggest dairy firm.
The French company’s stake-building prompted Italy’s centre-right government to look at ways to stop one of Italy’s best-known companies falling into foreign hands. Attempts led by Intesa Sanpaolo to mount an all-Italian counter-bid failed.