* Barclays would take 80 pct stake in Doux, says source
* Family/BNP would split remaining 20 pct
* Barclays would stay enough time to get group 'on track'
* Brittany court to review bids on Friday
By Christian Plumb
PARIS, July 26 Barclays is proposing to
swap a 140 million-euro ($169.73 million) loan to troubled
French poultry group Doux for an 80 percent stake, though the
bank wants to sell off parts of its holding to potential
partners, a source close to the transaction said on Thursday.
Family-owned Doux's struggles - it is operating under court
administration - have emerged as a headache both for Barclays as
its main bank creditor and for the French government, which is
grappling with job cuts in various industries.
Roughly 1,000 jobs will be cut whether a scheduled court
hearing on Friday approves the Barclays plan or a competing one.
The main competing bid comes from the major firms in the
French poultry sector, led by oilseed financial group
The group has put forward a joint offer to take over some of
Doux's assets. But Sofiproteol would not take over Doux's debts,
including debts to Barclays, as it would be part of a sale
process following a bankruptcy not a continuation plan.
Chairman Charles Doux has held 80 percent ownership in the
firm with his family, with the remainder held by French bank BNP
Paribas. Under the Barclays proposal, Doux and BNP
would split the remaining 20 percent of the company, although it
is unclear how it would be divided, the source said.
Barclays would start out with 80 percent but "would
eventually like to bring on other industrial and financial
partners that make sense," the source said, adding the bank was
likely to keep a majority.
The bank "would stay the amount of time needed to get the
group back on track," the source said.
Barclays and Sofiproteol declined immediate comment.
A Brittany-based commercial court is due to hold a hearing
on Friday to review the bids but the verdict on the future of
Doux is not likely until next month at the earliest. The judge
is set to adjourn its decision for further deliberation.
The new French Socialist government has been pushing for a
buyer for the whole group to protect as many jobs as possible
with French unemployment at its highest since 1999.
Although the government has no right to intervene in the
final decision, it may play a role in the future of the company
through its investment fund FSI and regional help to companies.
The Barclays offer "is more or less equivalent and actually
a bit better than Sofiproteol's in terms of job protection," the
source said, adding the government had adopted a neutral stance.
The source said Barclays would preserve 3,190 jobs out of a
total of 4,195, including 711 temporary contracts, while
Sofiproteol would only keep 3,078 jobs.