Four of Europe's largest companies have announced details of a Web-based consumer packaged goods marketplace they are setting up in a bid to prevent US counterpart Transora from gaining too much of a lead in Europe.

Known as, the new grouping boasts two of the largest players in the European food sector. It is spearheaded by Nestlé, the world's largest food producer, and also includes Danone, France's number one food group, which has a leading market presence in dairy food, biscuits and mineral water. The core non-food partners are the German chemicals group Henkel and SAP, the compatriot provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software.

The four partners have already invested a total of €30m, and are now actively seeking corporate investors for a placing of shares in the exchange, which is scheduled for rollout next month.

Perhaps in a bid to distinguish itself from Transora, which brings together fifty of the world's food groups, stresses that its online market is specifically designed for the European consumer packaged goods industry. They are probably right to do so - for at this stage there is still room for another major b2b exchange, and if it is based in Europe so much the better.'s primary goal will be to prevent Transora dominating in Europe as well as North America. Significantly, the US subsidiaries of both Nestlé and Danone are members of Transora, evidence that the new grouping's raison d'être is not merely to challenge Transora, but to grow the market as a whole and secure a strong position in Europe. chief executive Yves Barbieux said it was essential that Transora had a competitor to ensure that the US cluster could not simply charge whatever it liked. Transora itself is keen to emphasise that the global barriers to trade are coming down, and that there is no reason that an online marketplace cannot be global. Transora recently set up a European subsidiary.

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