Ebro Puleva, Spain's largest food group has denied local reports that private equity group Permira is studying the company's books ahead of a takeover bid.

In a statement issued to the Spanish stock exchange this morning (26 November), Ebro Puleva said it has "no knowledge" of any move by Permira to look at its books.

Reports in Spanish business newspaper El Economista said a number of private equity groups, including Permira, were eyeing Ebro Puleva.

Ebro Puleva has faced a turbulent year. Last month, the company confirmed it would close three sugar plants in order to survive EU reform of the sector.

The reforms have led to volumes falling at Azucarera Ebro, Ebro Puleva's sugar arm. The company has said its sugar quota will be cut by 50% to 400,000 tonnes a year.

The company has seen profits tumble almost 56% so far this year, thanks to rising raw material costs.

The company booked net profit of EUR57.7m (US$85.7m) for the nine months to the end of September, a fall of 55.8% on the year.