(Recasts to add Audika comment)
By Massimo Gaia
PARIS/MILAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Italian hearing aid company Amplifon said on Friday it was interested in buying smaller rival Audika, but the French company said it was not for sale.
Amplifon’s Chief Executive Franco Moscetti told Reuters Amplifon could invest 200-250 million euros ($273-340 million) in new acquisitions outside Italy, where it is already market leader, and cited Audika as a interesting target.
His comments pushed Audika’s shares to a more than 2-year high.
Audika co-chairman and founder Alain Tonnard said: “I can well understand the interest aroused by our company, but we are not selling.”
Shares in Audika jumped more than 10 percent on Moscetti’s remarks to reach a peak of 14.89 euros, their highest level since February 2012. They trimmed their gains to close at 14.20 euros, up 5.42 percent on the day.
“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.”
Family-controlled Amplifon already 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, compared with Amplifon’s 1 billion euros.
Holding company Holton SA owns more than 50 percent of Audika, according to Eikon data. ($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Additional reporting by Noelle Mennella in Paris,; writing by Francesca Landini. Editing by Jane Merriman)