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Majority of Parmalat board resigns in wake of LAG probe

By Mark Astley+

26-Feb-2014
Last updated the 27-Feb-2014 at 14:39 GMT

With the criminal investigation into Parmalat's May 2012 acquisition of Lactalis American Group (LAG) now seemingly closed, nine members of Italian firm's board have resigned.

In a statement issued yesterday, Parma-based dairy manufacturer Parmalat announced that nine of its 11 board members had tended their resignations despite the Court of Parma's refusal by the city's prosecutors office “to revoke the whole Board of Directors.”

The court's decision effectively brings to an end the criminal investigation into Parmalat’s May 2012 acquisition of LAG, a spokesman for Parmalat told DairyReporter.com.

With the probe behind it, the company is looking to start afresh, said the spokesman.

“This board has been under a lot of pressure as a result of the investigations,” he said.

“After the Court of Parma recognised that nothing wrong had been done, the board members decided to resign to underline the fact that they were not there to act against the interests of the company. Just to serve the company in a proper way.”

"Hand over control"

Gabriella Chersicla, Fransesco Gatti, Yvon Guérin, Marco Jesi, Daniel Jaouen, Marco Reboa, Antonio Sala, Franco Tatò, and Riccardo Zingales, who announced their resignations in a single letter, will step down once shareholders approve the company’s 2013 results.

“As we are convinced to have always acted in the most correct manner, we choose to take this difficult decision in the exclusive interest of the Company, in order to allow the Company itself to operate once more in a constructive and serene environment,” said the letter.

Parmalat acquired LAG from French dairy giant Lactalis – the parent company of both firms – for $904m (€661m) in May 2012.

Civil and criminal probes were launched in Italy after concerns were raised by minority shareholders that Parmalat was acting in the interests of Lactalis by overpaying for LAG. Parmalat executives were initially warned that they were the subject of an investigation into "aggravated embezzlement."

In April 2103, a civil investigation appointed a special commissioner to oversee a pre-agreed assessment of the acquisition price. The purchase price was reduced by $130m (€95m) in June 2013. 

“Pressure has been so high," said the spokesman. 

"With the members of the board gone, someone else can come in to manage the company with less pressure from the authorities.”

“It’s time to hand over control to someone else," he added.

A new Board of Directors will be appointed by the firm’s next Annual General Meeting (AGM), the company said.

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