US private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has remained silent on reports that it is planning to invest around US$100m in the Chinese dairy sector.

According to a statement on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce website, KKR is joining forces with China Mengniu Dairy Co., China's largest milk producer, and a fund established by China Mengniu Dairy's chairman Niu Gensheng.

The consortium is reportedly preparing to invest in milk producer Mengniu Modern Animal Husbandry.

A spokesperson for KKR in Hong Kong declined to confirm the move or comment on the scale of the investment.

However, the spokesperson told just-food that the Chinese dairy sector presented a number of "interesting opportunities" in the wake of September's melamine scandal.

China's Ministry of Health announced yesterday (1 December) that 294,000 children fell sick after consuming dairy products contaminated with melamine, which was used illegally by farmers to artificially boost protein levels in order to pass quality tests.

According to government figures six children died in the scandal, which rocked the dairy industry and seriously diminished domestic and international consumer confidence in the safety of goods containing Chinese dairy products.