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Romanian regulator conditionally approves Lactalis takeover of Covalact, Lactate Harghita

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Romania's anti-trust body said on Tuesday it conditionally approved the takeover of Romanian dairy companies Covalact and Lactate Harghita by France's Lactalis, seenews.com informs.

To proceed with the takeover, Lactalis should sell its LaDorna butter brand for a certain period of time to an independent dairy company, which then has to re-brand the product, the Competition Council said in a press release.

In 2008, Lactalis took over Romanian dairy company LaDorna from French businessman Jean Valvis for 90 million euro ($102 million).

"The council found that the transaction may lead to consolidation of Lactalis group position on the butter market at national level and may affect consumer choice. This transaction may lead to an increase in the price of butter," the regulator said.

During the process of analyzing the transaction, the council said it has requested all interested parties such as farmers and agricultural associations to submit their observations and opinions in relation to the transaction.

The sale and purchase agreement between Lactalis and the owner of Covalact and Lactate Harghita, US-based private equity fund SigmaBleyzer Southeast European Fund IV, was signed at the end of 2016. The price of the deal was not disclosed.

In July 2016, Lactalis paid 340 million lei ($84.2 million /74.2 million euro) to acquire Romanian dairy producer Albalact.

Lactalis's brand portfolio includes President, Parmalat and Galbani. The group employs 75,000 people and owns more than 200 plants in 43 countries around the world.

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