Italy decree to defend strategic companies from foreign buyouts

23rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Italy approved a decree on Wednesday containing measures to defend strategic companies from foreign buyouts after French company Lactalis became the main shareholder in Italian Parmalat.

The green light for a plan to protect companies was taken during a cabinet meeting mid-morning, according to a government source.

French cheese giant Lactalis said on Tuesday it had reached a deal to increase its stake in Parmalat to 29 percent despite a government warning of measures to keep the dairy group in Italian hands.

Lactalis the single largest shareholder in Parmalat, which had grown into a global dairy leader before collapsing in 2003 due to financial fraud by its founder Calisto Tanzi in a scandal that was dubbed "Europe's Enron".

Lactalis' move triggered a vociferous response from the Italian government, dismayed by a recent buying binge by French companies in Italy recently.

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. AirFrance-KLM has held a 25 percent stake in Alitalia since 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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