Lactalis to buy rest of Italian dairy company Parmalat

French multi-national dairy products company Lactalis, is offering to buy the remaining stake it does not already own in Parmalat S.p.A. for €636 million and delist the Italian dairy company from the Milan stock exchange.

Lactalis, owned by the Bernier family, had in 2011 acquired a controlling 87.74-per cent stake in Parmalat for €3.4-billion in a hostile takeover through their investment vehicle Sofil.

Lactalis is offering to pay €2.80 per Parmalat share, a premium of 8.5 per cent to the company's closing level of 23 December.

After more than 5 years as leading shareholder of Parmalat, Lactalis Group intends to provide Parmalat with a new dynamic direction, which can be more easily and effectively achieved in the long term without recourse to the stock market, Lactalis said in a statement.

Borsa Italiana Stock Exchange-listed Parmalat is a leading Italian dairy and food company with operations in 24 countries, including Europe, Latin America, North America, Australia, China and South Africa.

It specialises in milk and milk derivatives like yogurt, cheese, butter ice cream, and also has makes fruit juices.

With brands like Lactis, Santal, Malů, and Kyr, Parmalat has around 140 production centres, more than 36,000 employees, and annual revenues of €6.42 billion.

The Parma-based company was restructured in 2006 after it entered bankruptcy in 2003 due to financial fraud that left the company burdened with debts of around €14 billion ($20 billion).

The bankruptcy is Europe's biggest till date.

Founded in France nearly 83 years ago, Lactalis is the world largest diary group, employing more than 54 000 and operating in 56 countries through 200 factories.

With well known brands such as Président, Galbani and Parmalat, the company generates annual revenue of €15 billion.