Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Keep your Hands off the Culturally Exceptional Yoplait and Danone!

In the face of hostile takeovers, largely by French companies, some of them partially state owned, Italy is raising barriers to M&A and buyouts.

French cheese giant Lactalis said on Tuesday it had reached a deal to increase its stake in Parmalat to 29 per cent despite a government warning of measures to keep the dairy group in Italian hands.

Lactalis the single largest shareholder in Parmalat, which had grown into a global dairy leader before collapsing in 2003 due to financial fraud by its founder Calisto Tanzi in a scandal that was dubbed "Europe's Enron".

Lactalis' move triggered a vociferous response from the Italian government, dismayed by a recent buying binge by French companies in Italy recently.
If French yogurt production somehow could have been declared strategic, one would imagine that this would engender a similar philosophical respect for other nations’ industries, state owned or not – especially those of their fellow EU cartel members.

Dream on. Add (impotable) UHT milk production to the strategic yogurt production list, including watchmaker to the rich despots and the vane, Bulgari and asset manager Pioneer.
The moves come amid a backlash against whole or partial takeovers by French companies of energy group Edison, jeweler Bulgari and dairy company Parmalat.

In a sign that the backlash is affecting business plans, Federico Ghizzoni, chief executive of UniCredit, said he could pull the sale of the bank’s asset manager Pioneer, which is valued at €2 billion - €3 billion ($2.8 billion - $4.2 billion).

Pioneer, which is in the final stages of a lengthy auction, has attracted bids from French companies Amundi, a joint venture between Société Générale and Crédit Agricole, and Natixis.