French giant announces 3.4 bn euro bid for Parmalat

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French dairy giant Lactalis on Tuesday launched a controversial takeover bid worth around 3.4 billion euros ($4.9 billion) for Italy's Parmalat in which it already holds 29 percent.

The news came shortly after trading of Parmalat shares was suspended on the Milan stock exchange ahead of an expected announcement and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew into Rome for talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Lactalis offered 2.60 euros per share for the remaining stake in Parmalat.

A group of Italian companies has been scrambling to block a takeover of Parmalat by Lactalis amid nationalist sentiment and fears over the French company's increasingly powerful role on the Italian dairy products market.

Lactalis said it would keep the headquarters of Parmalat in Italy.

Lactalis and Parmalat combined would have an annual turnover of 14 billion euros which would make it the global leader in the sector, Lactalis said.

© 2011 AFP

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