Parmalat and Australian cooperative Murray Goulburn have joined the race to acquire Dairy Farmers.

In a statement today (16 May), Dairy Farmers said the two groups had sought clearance from the Australian competition regulator for a joint bid for the company.

The Parmalat-led move is the third bidder to seek regulator clearance, following New Zealand’s Fonterra and National Foods, owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings.

Dairy Farmers, which is owned by some 2,000 Australian farmers, put itself up for sale last month. It has said there has been wide interest in the race to be the business, which has been valued at as much as A$1bn (US$943m).

Singapore’s Olam International has been named as another possible bidder, while another potential suitor, the Australia-based food maker Goodman Fielder, is said to have pulled out of the race.