MILAN, June 27 Italian hearing aid group
Amplifon is interested in buying smaller French
competitor Audika to broaden its market share in the
country, Chief Executive Franco Moscetti told Reuters on Friday.
"If Audika's shareholders were willing to sell, we would
step in and build a group that would have a market share of more
than 20 percent in France," Moscetti said in an interview. "A
deal would make industrial sense."
Moscetti said the company could invest 200-250 million euros
in new acquisitions outside Italy, where it is already market
leader, and Audika would be a fitting target.
Family-controlled Amplifon acquired the loss-making Italian
business of Audika in April, paying around 7.1 million euros for
55 specialised hearing aid centres.
The French company has a market cap of around 130 million
euros ($177 million), against Amplifon's 1 billion euros.
Holding company Holton SA owns more than 50 percent of Audika,
according to Eikon data.
Shares in Audika were up more than 8 percent by 14.25 GMT,
reversing earlier losses after Moscetti's remarks.
($1 = 0.7359 Euros)
(Reporting by Massimo Gaia, writing by Francesca Landini,
editing by Danilo Masoni)