(Corrects Parmalat CEO's first name to Enrico, not Roberto, in
* Intesa SP: open to taking part in Italian consortium
* Intesa SP: will submit own list for board
* Shares up 3.95 pct, sector up 1.12 pct
(Adds details, background, shares)
By Stefano Bernabei
ROME, March 16 Shares in Italy's Parmalat SpA
(PLT.MI) hit a 35-month high on Wednesday, boosted by
speculation about a domestic tie-up for the dairy group to keep
it out of foreign hands.
Newspaper reports have said that Parmalat, Italy's biggest
listed food company, had drawn interest separately from French
dairy group Lactelis and Brazil's Lacteos.
Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP.MI), Italy's biggest retail bank
and a Parmalat shareholder, is open to taking part in an Italian
consortium that could tie up with Parmalat, said Corrado
Passera, the lender's chief executive.
"We believe that Parmalat is an important Italian company
and so if we can do something ... but there's nothing to be
announced today," he told reporters on the margins of the
Italian Banking Association's executive board meeting.
Newspapers have said unlisted dairy group Granarolo could be
part of the group. Granarolo Chairman Giampiero Calzolari was
quoted by Corriere della Sera daily on Saturday as saying it
could take part in a consortium to keep Parmalat Italian.
Parmalat shares touched their highest level since April 2008
and were up 3.95 percent at 2.474 euros at 1520 GMT. The STOXX
Europe 600 food and beverage index .SX3P was up 1.12 percent.
A Milan trader said: "Anything could happen and so people
Adding to speculation about the company's course, Passera
also said Intesa Sanpaolo, which holds 2.44 percent of Parmalat,
would propose a slate of board candidates headed by Chief
Executive Enrico Bondi.
Bondi, the architect of Parmalat's rebirth after its
collapse in 2003, is under fire from activist funds who want
more acquisitions and better returns from the company's 1.4
billion euro ($1.95 billion) cash pile. Shareholders meet April
12-14 to pick a new board.
MAKING A LIST
Activist funds Mackenzie Financial Corp, part of Canada's
IGM Financial (IGM.TO), Norway's Skagen AS, and Zenit Asset
Management AB put up their list of candidates for the 11-member
board last week. [ID:nN1097527] The funds hold a combined 15.3
percent of Parmalat.
The dairy company also is seen as an potential takeover
target since it has secured about 2 billion euros in litigation
payments stemming from its collapse, dubbed "Europe's Enron".
Massimo Rossi, a former chief executive of Swedish Match
(SWMA.ST) and named by the funds as Bondi's replacement, has
told newspapers his strategy could include an eventual tie-up
Chevreux, a broker, said in a research report that a
strategic alliance like one with Granarolo would help reduce
investors' disappointment over how Parmalat has used earnings.
A deal with Granarolo could add about 0.15 euro to the share
price, it said.
On March 2, the funds denied a newspaper report that they
were talking to Lactelis or any other party about a sale of
their stake. [ID:nLDE7210RU]
Two Brazilian newspapers also reported last week that
Parmalat was holding merger talks with Lacteos Brasil in a deal
valued at up to $3.4 billion.
(Additional reporting by Sabina Suzzi and Cristina Carlevaro
in Milan, writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by David Cowell)