France’s Competition Authority has given the go-ahead to dairy co-operative Sodiaal’s proposed acquisition of cheese maker Entremont Alliance. 
The Authority said its analysis of the deal revealed that overlaps in Sodiaal and Entremont’s activities will be limited and the only segment where the new entity will hold significant market shares is for retailers’ own label raclette cheese. However, it added that this stronger position is not likely to impede fair competition given the purchasing clout of retailers.
Despite regulatory approval in France, one major obstacle remains before the acquisition can be completed  – an agreement on provision for the reimbursement of Entremont’s debts which earlier this year were estimated at over EUR335.6m (US$430.9m).
When contacted by just-food, both Sodiaal and Entremont declined to comment on the negotiations nor when they might be concluded.

In June this year, Sodiaal’s bid for its French dairy peer appeared to have moved towards closure with a draft agreement between the two sides after months of talks. It announced that “a new stage has been reached in the negotiations with Entremont Alliance’s shareholder, Unifem, with a view to the 100% acquisition of Entremont Alliance by Sodiaal”.

However, no mention was made of a restructuring of Entremont’s debts.