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July 23, 2009

FRANCE: Takeover target Entremont buys Via Lacta

Entremont Alliance, the French dairy group currently the focus of a rescue offer, has had its takeover bid for cheese-maker Via Lacta de Saint-Germain-Laprade accepted.

Entremont Alliance, the French dairy group currently the focus of a rescue offer, has had its takeover bid for cheese-maker Via Lacta de Saint-Germain-Laprade accepted.

The bid was cleared by a commercial court in Puy-en-Velay, according to a CGT union source.

Via Lacta, which has been under judicial administration since May, is supplied with around 40m litres of milk annually by 150 dairy farmers.

Under the terms and conditions of the takeover, farmers who sold their milk to the company in May but were not paid will be compensated.

Of Via Lacta’s 98 staff, some 73 will be kept on. Those losing their jobs will each receive EUR20,000 (US$28,441) in addition to statutory redundancy payments, the source added. 

Via Lacta will benefit from a cash injection of EUR4m and be re-named Fromagerie du Velay.

Entremont is saddled with debts of over EUR370m and has attracted a joint bid from French dairy groups Sodiaal and Bongrain.

Lactalis, the French dairy giant, told just-food this week that it is interesting in parts of Entremont.

However, the Galbani and President owner is awaiting more clarity on what Entremont’s major shareholder, Belgian billionaire Albert Frere, wants to do with the business.

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