Parmalat's much publicised financial problems have presented Campina with the ideal opportunity to enter the fastest growing sector of the dairy market - liquid milk. The group said that the move highlighted its commitment in developing its activities in the sector - a strategy that it announced last year.
Located in Bangkok, Parmalat Thailand focused on the production of pasteurised and long-life milk. The plant has approximately 175 employees and was unaffected by the fraud scandal which was revealed late last year in Italy.
Traditionally, dairy consumption in Asia has been low in comparison to that in western European countries, but it is now witnessing strong growth, led by the success of liquid milk, a natural source of calcium and as such attractive to an Asian population increasingly concerned about the risks of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Parmalat's strategy in Asia was to develop "brand expertise" and "market intimacy" and to achieve this it forged close relationships with local market experts. The acquisition of Parmalat's activities in Thailand will give Campina the opportunity to build on this local expertise to quickly develop its business throughout the Asian region. It said that some of Parmalat Thailand's innovative local product concepts already fitted with the Campina brand.
Thailand in particular is one of the fastest growing economies in the Asian region. The retail structure is moving away from traditional local outlets and major international retailers are moving into the sector. This development will give major food producers a more accessible infrastructure to sell their products to consumers.
Parmalat's financial problems began when a €14 billion black hole was discovered in the company's accounts last December. The government appointed turnaround expert, Enrico Bondi, subsequently committed the company to a restructuring plan that proposed to "swap debt for equity" by streamlining the company by selling the majority of its non-core assets.
Parmalat was previously Italy's 8th largest group and one of the country's most international companies. It announced that it planned to back out of major subsidiaries in the US, Latin American, Asia and Canada and Australia last month.
Campina will acquire 90 per cent of the shares of Parmalat Thailand, with the remaining 10 per cent remaining in the hands of the local partner. Further financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.