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Mlekodel Will Continue Efforts for Takeover of Ljubljanske mlekarne

Ljubljana, 03 December (STA) - Mlekodel, a milk trading company, will continue its efforts to obtain a majority stake in the Ljubljanske mlekarne dairy on behalf of Slovenian cooperatives, despite the agreement reached between the dairy and Mlekodel's French rival Lactalis, Peter Vrisk of the Cooperatives Association said on Monday.

According to Mlekodel's chief supervisor Janko Stojkovič, representatives of Mlekodel and Lactalis met last week to discuss the company's plans for Slovenia's biggest dairy.

"They clearly said that they want to be the sole owner of Ljubljanske mlekarne, that they would be active on the local market...and that they would buy local milk," he said.

Quizzed whether Mlekodel, which published a takeover bid at EUR 6.5 per share on behalf of the DBS bank and 35 cooperatives in September, was willing to up its offer, Stojkovič said it was too early to tell as Lactalis's bid had not been released yet.

"In the event that they publish an offer we will see whether to raise the price," he noted, but added that Lactalis would not include Slovenian producers into the management of the company, while the French dairy also failed to agree to any long-term commitments regarding the purchase of milk.

"Considering the fact that they already have companies in Italy and Croatia, it is clear that they need quality resources," Stojkovič said, but wondered at what price would Lactalis be willing to buy Slovenian milk, which is above EU average in quality.

"It's a fact that they would get the purchase money back from milk prices to ensure adequate profit."

Vrisk, who pointed to the quality of Slovenian milk, moreover expressed doubts that anybody from abroad "would act for the benefit of local people and keep local jobs".

Mlekodel's September takeover bid for Ljubljanske mlekarne was unsuccessful, as the cooperatives only managed to acquire 4.44% of all shares of the dairy to up its stake to 36.41%. Lactalis meanwhile reached an agreement with the shareholders of Ljubljanske mlekarne for a 50.3% stake in the company.

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