French poultry group LDC has entered into exclusive talks to acquire Marie, the French chilled and frozen prepared food business of Uniq.

Bringing to an end weeks of speculation, LDC today (26 June) confirmed that it hopes to acquire 100% of Marie in a deal worth EUR60m (US$84.5m). The French group would also assume responsibility for Marie’s net debt of EUR13m.

The French company said that the acquisition of the Marie, WEIGHT WATCHERS and Luang brands would strengthen its value added portfolio.

The Marie brand is purchased by four in ten French households, while more than 96% of French people are aware of the brand, a survey by Gfk found in April.

Marie generated a turnover of EUR265m in 2008 and operates seven production facilities in France.

Struggling UK ready meals maker Uniq announced that it was “considering options” for its French business in March as it looked to refocus its business on its home market.

The acquisition is subject to approval from Uniq’s shareholders and the French competition authorities.