June 27, 2014 / 2:31 PM / in 4 years

Italy's Amplifon looking at French rival Audika

MILAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Italian hearing aid group Amplifon is interested in buying smaller French competitor Audika to broaden its market share in the country, Chief Executive Franco Moscetti told Reuters on Friday.

“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.”

Moscetti said the company could invest 200-250 million euros in new acquisitions outside Italy, where it is already market leader, and Audika would be a fitting target.

Family-controlled Amplifon 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 ($177 million), against Amplifon’s 1 billion euros. Holding company Holton SA owns more than 50 percent of Audika, according to Eikon data.

Shares in Audika were up more than 8 percent by 14.25 GMT, reversing earlier losses after Moscetti’s remarks. ($1 = 0.7359 Euros) (Reporting by Massimo Gaia, writing by Francesca Landini, editing by Danilo Masoni)

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