French dairy giant Danone has sold its 10% stake in Australian dairy firm National Foods.
Although Danone did not give a reason for the sale, industry analysts speculated that the move could be due to National Foods’ interest in acquiring the Australian assets of troubled Italian food group Parmalat, reported Reuters.
Danone is believed to have taken a stake in National Foods in case the Australian company launched a takeover bid for rival Dairy Farmers, which produces Danone yoghurt for the Australian market. Now, however, analysts believe National Foods is more likely to bid for Parmalat Australia, which is a smaller player in the Australian yoghurt market.
Danone’s decision to sell its stake is believed to be about the yoghurt industry and not because it is considering a bid for Parmalat Australia itself, Reuters reported, citing sources.
“They’re a $25bn company. If they want to have a tilt at Parmalat, they don’t have to sell their National Foods stake,” an industry source said.
Parmalat Australia has insisted it is not for sale, but its Italian parent is likely to have to divest certain operations after revealing a billion euro hole in its accounts in December, and its Australian operations are believed to be highly sellable.