The European ant-trust authority is expected to make its decision on July 27 on the proposed joint venture agreement between Swiss food giant Nestlé and French dairy company Lactalis. The two companies hope to work together in the chilled dairy sector in Europe.

The agreement makes provision for Lactalis to take a 60% stake in the JV with Nestlé holding the remaining 40%. The proposed new organisation would be managed by a board composed of senior executives from both partners, with Lactalis in a majority.

The JV will cover a wide range of chilled dairy products, such as yoghurts and desserts, with current and future products carrying the Nestlé corporate umbrella brand, along with other trade marks such as La Laitière, Sveltesse, Yoco, Fruttolo, Munch Bunch, Ski, B’a and Bridelice. Operations will cover EU countries, as well as Switzerland and Norway.

The tie-up was first announced in December 2005 and EC Competition investigators have had the lengthy task of having to assess a multitude of market segments to evaluate whether there is a risk of a dominant position emerging.

Nestlé is looking to the JV to help it regain ground lost to Danone in recent years in the dairy sector.