The company has signed an agreement creating a joint venture with Western Bakeries and Olayan Financing Company (OFC) in a bid to expand its bakery division outside of Europe. With the slow growth being experienced in the European marketplace, more and more EU-based food companies like Vivartia are looking to expand into new and developing markets outside the EU. Vivartia will control 25 per cent of the company under the new agreement, with Western Bakeries holding 60 per cent and OFC 15 per cent. This follows the company's €18.7m acquisition last week of UMC, Bulgaria's largest dairy company. Spyridon Theodoropoulos, Vivartia's chief executive officer, said the joint venture agreement is in line with the company's strategy to expand the bakery and confectionary divisions outside of Europe. "The selection of the local partners was based on their knowledge of the specific market, their extensive distribution network and out prior collaboration with OFC, which has been a strategic partner with the bakery and confectionery division for quite some time," he said.Vivartia's investment in the 25 per cent stake adds up to €14m, with the company expecting to complete the deal by the end of 2008. Western Bakeries distributes bread, pastries and cakes across Saudi Arabia. It is a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian firm Almarai, which claims to be the world's largest integrated dairy foods company. The company claims that 2.5 billion of its products are consumed every day across 29 countries across the world.