Italy seeks to 'safeguard interests' after Parmalat deal

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Italian government said Friday it would take measures to protect "strategic companies" after French cheese giant Lactalis said it had become the top shareholder in Italian dairy firm Parmalat.

Economic Minister Giulio Tremonti talked at a cabinet meeting about "French legislation on safeguarding strategic enterprises in view to future measures by the (Italian) government," according to a government statement.

Tremonti met French Ambassador in Rome Jean-Marc de La Sabliere along with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's right-hand man cabinet under-secretary Gianni Letta, a governmental source said.

During those talks, Tremonti and Letta explained to the ambassador what measures the Italian government intends to take while respecting "reciprocity on European rules".

On Thursday, Lactalis announced it had picked up 11.42 percent of Parmalat and the world's largest cheese company said it planned to increase further its stake, without reaching the 30 percent shareholding level which would oblige it to launch a full buyout.

French companies have been on a buying binge in Italy recently, to the dismay of the government.

Luxury group LVMH has taken control of jeweller Bulgari, EDF is in discussion with Italian power company Edison and insurer Groupama is expected to take a part of Premafin.

© 2011 AFP

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