Italy’s competition authority has reportedly blocked the merger of ice-cream maker Sammontana with frozen baked goods company Forno d’Asolo.

Widely reported in the Italian media, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) is concerned the deal will hinder competition in the marketplace and has consequently suspended the transaction, pending further investigation.

The merger was announced in February in a joint statement from the Bagnoli family, the owners of Sammontana, and the London-headquartered investment group InvestIndustrial.

InvestIndustrial said the transaction would be conducted via its Frozen Investments fund to combine Sammontana with the FdA Group, or Forno d’Asolo. Together, they would buy Forno d’Asolo from private-equity firm BC Partners for an undisclosed sum.

The Bagnoli family, InvestIndustrial and the management team would own 100% of the new group.

However, the AGCM reportedly issued a circular on 6 May ordering the “immediate suspension” of the deal, according to local media, with the competition regulator giving the parties five days to respond to its concerns.

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“In consideration of the aggregate level of the quotas, together with the significant and widespread presence of the Sammontana and FdA sales network, the breadth of the product range as well as the ‘importance and notoriety of the brands managed, it is believed that the transaction may significantly hinder effective competition in the market for the production and sale of frozen breakfast bakery products,” Alimentando reported the AGCM as saying in the circular.

Distribuzione Moderna said the AGCM was concerned the merger would provide a market share in frozen baked breakfast goods four times larger than its nearest competitor.

Similarly, the regulator is concerned the business combination will dent competition in ice cream, although not to the same degree as frozen baked goods, Distribuzione Moderna reported.

InvestIndustrial, as the issuer of the initial merger agreement, had not responded to Just Food’s request at the time of writing. Neither had the AGCM.

In a separate February statement announcing the agreed sale of Forno d’Asolo, BC Partners said it bought the business in 2018 and fostered its expansion into the US, Germany and France.

The investor also initiated the acquisition by Forno d’Asolo of Milan-based patisserie maker Bindi.

Forno d’Asolo generated around €500m ($536.6m) in sales in 2023 and EBITDA of more than €85m, BC Partners said.

InvestIndustrial said in February the combined group would have around €1bn in revenues, with production facilities across Italy, the US and France serving frozen pastries, desserts and gelato products to bars, restaurants, hotels, food retailers and catering companies.

Sammontana, founded in 1946, operates three production plants in Italy and has around 1,000 employees, as well as a network of over 200 dealers and distributors.