An Italian court has backed Parmalat’s plan to delay a shareholder meeting that would likely have seen France’s Lactalis assume a greater role in the management of the Italian dairy firm.

Lactalis, which took a 29% stake in Parmalat last month, was expected to gain majority board representation at the company’s annual shareholder meeting – originally scheduled for the end of April – after it proposed a slate of directors for nomination to Parmalat’s board.

However, Parmalat said that it would delay its AGM by two months after the Italian government introduced a law that would allow the company to do so. In this time, it is hoped that a consortium of Italian shareholders can be formed to block Lactalis’ bid for control of the group.

Lactalis challenged the legality of Parmalat’s move. However, the Court of Parma today (11 April) revealed that it has backed Parmalat and concluded that the move to reschedule the AGM is “in compliance” with decree law No. 26, the law introduced to allow Parmalat’s delay.