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June 26, 2009

FRANCE: Entremont given reprieve on debt repayments

Entremont Alliance has confirmed that it has been granted a three-month extension on debt repayments, until the end-October.

Entremont Alliance has confirmed that it has been granted a three-month extension on debt repayments, until the end-October. 


The French dairy group, which made losses of EUR34m (US$47.8m) in 2008 and of EUR10m in the first quarter of this year, has estimated debts of EUR376m.


Before a French inter-ministerial committee, Ciri, which specialises in seeking solutions for firms in difficulty, six of Entremont’s banks agreed to re-reschedule the repayments. 


Meanwhile, efforts continue to secure a lasting future for Entremont, with Belgian holding company CNP, which holds a 63.5% stake, seeking to associate the group’s dairy farmer suppliers in a capital increase operation. This could see farmers holding as much as 34% of Entremont’s capital with embattled French co-operative, Unicopa, diluting its current 36.5% stake.


This operation could also include French counterpart Sodiaal, which has two JV companies with Entremont –  Beuralia  and Nutribio.


However, media reports claim that another French rival, Lactalis, is ready to absorb EUR200m of the debts as part of a takeover bid. Contacted by just-food today (26 June), a spokesman for the company declined to comment on the reports. 


“We have nothing to say at this stage. Entremont is attracting attention from a number of quarters and it’s only the beginning of what is likely to be a complicated negotiation process.”  


An Entremont spokeman said he could “neither confirm or deny” whether Lactalis or Sodiaal had made bids for the group.

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