Sodiaal’s bid for French dairy peer Entremont Alliance appears to have moved closer to completion with a draft agreement between the two sides after months of talks.

In a statement, Sodiaal said “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”.

Sodiaal and Unifem’s shareholders have drawn up “a draft agreement on the terms and conditions of the [takeover] operation,” the company added.

However, the statement made no mention of a restructuring of Entremont’s debts, which in February 2010 stood at over EUR335.6m (US$409.3m).

Last month, a source close to the negotiations told  just-food that failure to reach agreement with Entremont’s banks over the company’s debts continued to be a major obstacle.

Sodiaal wanted to have part of the debts wiped off and the remainder re-scheduled, the source said.

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Reports in one regional newspaper yesterday claimed Entremont’s banks had agreed to transform EUR70m of debts into ten-year convertible bonds but this has not been confirmed.

When contacted by just-food, a source at Entremont declined to elaborate on the Sodiaal statement but did underline that it was “not yet a done deal.”