Private-equity group Pai Partners has remained silent on rumours that it is preparing to shortlist bidders for its 50% stake in French dairy group YOPLAIT.

According to a report in French daily La Tribune, PAI will reduce the nine bidders that have registered interest in the sale to a final list of four to five parties from which it will select a buyer.

A spokesperson for the private equity group confirmed that the sale progress was “progressing” but declined to comment further on the deal.

While PAI has not named the bidders, it has registered interest from industrial and financial groups in France and overseas. Reports have linked the likes of General Mills, Nestle, Groupe Bel and Lactalis to the takeover.

Lactalis, which had an offer for the whole business turned down in November, has confirmed that it has tabled a fresh bid and is one of the nine in the race.

The remaining 50% stake in Yoplait is owned by farmers’ cooperative Sodiaal, which has indicated that it wants to remain a shareholder in the yoghurt maker.