ZURICH Nestle NESN.VX wants to keep its options open for its stake in cosmetics firm L'Oreal (OREP.PA) and will not extend a purchase contract with France's Bettencourt family, the food group's chairman told a Swiss newspaper.
The Swiss company owns a 29.5 percent stake in L'Oreal and the expiry of a 10-year right of first refusal agreement with the Bettencourt family in April 2014 would make it easier for Nestle to sell.
"The right of first refusal will not be extended, that is quite clear," Peter Brabeck told the Handelszeitung newspaper in an excerpt of an interview published on its website on Wednesday.
He didn't elaborate on Nestle plans, but said the company wants to keep "all options on the table," including maintaining the status quo.
Uncertainty surrounding the stake has weighed on Nestle' s share price ahead of the expiry. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment on the interview.
Last week the Bettencourt family said it had no plans to sell its 30.5 percent of L'Oreal's capital.
Shares in Nestle were down 0.6 percent at 61.45 Swiss francs by 1059 GMT, broadly in line with the European food and beverage sector index .SX3P.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Louise Heavens)