It was still unclear yesterday [Tuesday] whether or not French ingredients company Rhodia has actually received informal takeover bids from its European rivals DSM and BASF.

A report published in the Financial Times sparked speculation with revelations that DSM had put forward an offer of €14 (US$12.48) a share in equity and cash, valuing the company at €2.5bn. BASF, the paper alleged, had meanwhile suggested to Aventis, the Franco-German pharmaceuticals group that controls 25% of Rhodia shares, that it would pay €12 a share in cash.

Rumours circulating earlier this week prompted Rhodia's share price to increase by 19%, and the French COB (Commission des Operations de Bourse) demanded that all companies involved in the rumour clarify their positions.

Rhodia released a statement on Monday denying any interest, stating: "In accordance with the request received today from the Commission des Opérations de Bourse, Rhodia states that it has not been approached by either BASF nor or by DSM."

BASF similarly denied any interested in Rhodia: "We are not interested in Rhodia and did not make an offer."

DSM however stated: "DSM confirms that it has enquired about Aventis' position in regard of its shareholding in Rhodia [although] there is currently no contact between DSM and Rhodia."

Aventis meanwhile confirmed the DSM statement: "Aventis has recently been contacted on a preliminary basis about the sale of Rhodia shares owned by Aventis. These shares represent approximately 25% of the capital of Rhodia; they are linked to bonds issued by Aventis in 1999, which could be exchanged into Rhodia shares."