Nestle among four firms eyeing Danone's Medical Nutrition-report

PARIS, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:58pm EDT

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PARIS, March 20 (Reuters) - Swiss food giant Nestle and diversified German healthcare group Fresenius are among the four groups who have shown interest in buying the Medical Nutrition unit of France's Danone, daily Les Echos said on Thursday.

Reuters reported last month that the world's biggest yoghurt maker was considering selling the unit, which makes feeding tubes and other products, and which has been under pressure from declining healthcare budgets in Europe.

Danone, which could use the cash to expand its dairy and baby food businesses in higher-growth emerging markets, has however kept silent over its plans for the unit.

"According to several sources, four candidates have shown interest in buying the division that the French group is selling," Les Echos said, without identifying its sources.

Other candidates included Nordic investment fund EQT and a fourth unnamed company, Les Echos said, without providing further details.

Fresenius declined to comment on the report while Danone, EQT and Nestle could not be immediately reached for comment.

Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that Fresenius was considering making a bid for the unit in what could be a 4 billion-euro deal

Sources had also told Reuters the business could attract interest from peers such as Abbott, Nestle and Baxter and that bids were due in early March. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Andrew Roche)

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