In a joint statement, Nestlé and Lactalis have said that they remain fully committed to the proposed joint venture in the chilled dairy sector, as announced in December 2005.

The joint declaration was prompted by the two companies' admission that after filing the proposal with the European Union's anti-trust authorities at the end of last month and following subsequent discussions with the Commission, they had been informed by the latter that some changes were required.

"As a procedural matter, Nestlé and Lactalis decided to withdraw the filing and to resubmit a modified proposal to the Commission in mid-August 2006. The amendments will not significantly affect the core sectors of the common business," the statement said. No information has been disclosed detailing the changes the Commission has requested.

"Nestlé and Lactalis remain confident that a positive outcome can be expected and look forward to concluding the operation in the course of 2006," the statement added.

As outlined late last year, the agreement makes provision for Lactalis to take a 60% stake in the JV with Nestlé holding the remaining 40%. The tie-up would cover a wide range of chilled dairy products, such as yoghurts and desserts. Operations will cover EU countries, as well as Switzerland and Norway.