The European Commission has cleared Lactalis's proposed acquisition of fellow dairy group Parmalat.

Lactalis has made a EUR3.4bn (US$4.91bn) takeover bid for the 71% of Parmalat that it does not already own.

The EUR2.60-a-share offer, which some Parmalat shareholders believe is too low, is open to investors in the Italian dairy company until 8 July.

The Commission said today (14 June) that the deal would not "significantly impede effective competition" in Italy or any other countries in the European Economic Area.

It explained that the "increments in market share" in sectors including fresh milk, long-life milk, cream and cheese would be "negligible".

The Commission said: "A number of credible competitors would continue to exercise a competitive constraint on the merged entity."

It added: "The Commission investigation also concluded that the combined entity would not be in a position to restrict competition in relation to the sourcing of raw milk or as a result of the extension of its portfolio of products."