(Reuters) - French dairy group Lactalis made a 3.4 billion euro ($4.94 billion) takeover bid on Tuesday for Parmalat (PLT.MI), Italy’s biggest listed food company.
The bid piles pressure on potential Italian buyers and comes as Italy’s center-right government tries to block foreign takeovers of strategic companies.
Following are key facts about Parmalat and about unlisted Lactalis, the world’s third-biggest dairy group after Nestle NESN.VX and Danone (DANO.PA).
* Founded in 1933, Lactalis is a private company owned by France’s Besnier family, with a presence in 148 countries.
* 2010 turnover was 9.4 billion euros, with about 60 percent outside France.
* Lactalis is the biggest cheese producer in the world at 889,000 tonnes a year.
* Its two global brands Galbani and President comprise around 30 percent of the volume sold.
* It is second in the production of milk at a European level, at 1.84 million tonnes.
* It launched its President brand of Camembert cheese in 1968.
* From the 1990s on, the group expanded through a series of acquisitions, notably in Eastern Europe.
* In 2006, it bought Galbani, the cheese market leader in Italy and number one for Italian-style cheeses in Europe.
* The owners of French yogurt maker Yoplait rejected a 1.4 billion euro unsolicited bid from Lactalis in November 2010.
PARMALAT * The Parma-based company had revenues of about 4.3 billion euros last year. It is one of the few Italian multinationals in the food industry and is among the handful of listed Italian companies with a hefty free float.
* It has a presence in 16 countries and is a leader in long-life UHT milk. Its global brands are Parmalat for milk and dairy products and Santal for fruit beverages.
* Parmalat was founded in 1961 but collapsed at the end of 2003 with a 14 billion euro hole in its accounts.
* The scandal, dubbed “Europe’s Enron,” forced management to seek bankruptcy protection and triggered a criminal fraud probe.
* A streamlined version of the dairy group relisted on Milan’s bourse in 2005.
* Funds who sold stakes to Lactalis last month had pushed Chief Executive Enrico Bondi to grow the company through acquisitions.
Parmalat has a 1.4 billion euro cash pile largely from litigation settlements stemming from the collapse.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson. Editing by Jane Merriman)