The Slovenia Times

Lactalis Downplays Fears Over Ljubljana Dairy Takeover


Nalet said he did not understand the negative reactions from the farmers and Agriculture Minister Franc Bogovič to the announcement that Lactalis had reached a deal to buy 50.3% of Ljubljanske mlekarne from five shareholders.

While the French company had not wanted to comment on its takeover bid until formal procedures are completed, Nalet said it changed its mind after the statements by Bogovič and a consortium of cooperatives which had recently launched a takeover bid of its own for Ljubljanske mlekarne but failed to secure a majority stake.

"I'm familiar with claims of national interest. We saw the same thing in France in the energy sector. But there is no reason to fear us," Nalet said.

"Our goal is to provide the dairies with a new impetus for increase market share on foreign markets as well as to add to the offer of excellent products that Ljubljanske mlekarne has."

Nalet said it was too early to say whether the cooperatives associated in Mlekodel and the DBS bank, which own 36.41% of Ljubljanske mlekarne, would sell their stake to Lactalis. "By all means I expect that we will meet soon."

Asked by Finance when Lactalis plans to meet Slovenian suppliers, Nalet said: "Lactalis has a tradition of working with local partners, both farmers and distributors, on all markets. Our goal has never been to destroy partnerships, which are essential in this sector."

The statements from the Lactalis representative come after Bogovič expressed fear that the takeover of Ljubljanske mlekarne by the French company could prove to be one of the fatal blows to the entire Slovenian agriculture sector.

"Foreign investments have been met with mixed responses in Slovenia. This represents a major exposure of the entire Slovenian agriculture, not only dairy production," the minister said on Tuesday, a day after it was announced that Lactalis sealed a deal to acquire the majority stake in Ljubljanske mlekarne.

The announcement of the Lactalis takeover, which is subject to regulatory approval, came exactly a week after a rival bid by Mlekodel and DBS ended with the bidders failing to net a majority stake in the dairy.

Mlekodel, a milk trading company acting on behalf of the DBS bank and 35 cooperatives, managed to increase its stake in the dairy by only 4.44% to 36.41% with an offer of EUR 6.50 per share, which valued the Ljubljana-based company at EUR 28.5m. It is unclear how much Lactalis has offered for the majority stake.


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