Three Parmalat shareholders have “strongly denied” they are in negotiations with Lactalis to sell their 15.3% stake in the Italian dairy manufacturer.

The international funds at the centre of the rumours, Skagen AS, Mackenzie and Zenit Asset Management, said today (2 March) they have not “directly or through advisers” entered into “any negotiation” for the sale of their Parmalat shares with Lactalis or “any other party”.

The three investors announced on 26 January that they had signed a coordination agreement to nominate a slate of 11 candidates to elect to Parmalat’s board of directors and a slate of five candidates for election to Parmalat’s board of statutory auditors, to be voted on at the company’s next AGM.

The investors said that they will work together to identify candidates to support Parmalat in a “new phase of development” where they will work to strengthen the company’s position in Italy, improve industrial performance, and growth driven by “focused international expansion, also through value accretive acquisitions”.