Poultry group LDC looking at acquisitions outside of France

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PARIS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - France's largest poultry group LDC (LOUP.PA) is looking at European acquisitions in or around markets where it is already present as part of its growth strategy, its head of international operations told Reuters.

Its significant market share in France, where it holds 40% of the poultry market and 50% of the chilled delicatessen market, has left the group little room for manoeuvre in terms of external growth in its home country, Philippe Gelin said.

The group, which reported sales of 4.4 billion euros ($4.95 billion) in 2020/21 of which 830 million euros was generated outside of France, started its international expansion 20 years ago with the takeover of a company in Poland, the European Union's largest poultry producer.

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It then took majority stakes in a poultry business in Hungary, an import-export firm in Belgium and, earlier this year, in a poultry company Capestone in Wales, which controls 7% of the UK's free range and organic markets.

LDC favours acquiring family businesses when entering new markets but remains open to other possibilities, said Gelin, who is due to take over as chief executive next year but will remain in charge of the international division.

"Today the LDC group, depending on opportunities, has the capacity to make bigger acquisitions. We are not hindered by size," he said.

Majority stakes could target companies with sales of 200 million euros ($225 million) sales per year, Gelin said.

"First we want to strengthen our business through acquisitions in Poland, in Hungary and the UK, in places where we already are," he said.

The group is also looking at other countries in Europe, including those bordering Hungary, he said.

The group is in contact with several potential partners, Gelin said, declining to provide further detail.

($1 = 0.8894 euros)

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Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely

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