Europe's leading hard cheese maker Entremont Fromager, which is majority
owned by Belgium's Albert Frère Group, is merging its milk products
activities with Brittany-based co-operative Unicopa to become the second
largest group in the sector behind Lactalis and generating a turnover of
around €1.7bn (US$2.1bn).

The merger, to be called Entremont Alliance, is set to take effect form
October 2005. Its annual milk supplies will total 2.3bn litres and be used
in the production 195,000 tonnes of cheeses and 65,000 tonnes of milk
powders.

In an initial phase, Entremont will have a controlling stake in the new
company with Unicopa's shareholding totalling 36.5%. However, there plans to
move to 50:50 parity in the longer term.