PARIS, March 20 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
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)