News briefs: Friesland Foods, Parmalat, ice cream recalls

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Friesland foods Chief executive officer Milk

This week, Friesland Foods appoints a new executive to steer
operations ahead of a possible merger plan, Parmalat sets its
sights at four global banks in a new court case and Dreyer's
recalls some ice cream brands.

Friesland Foods appoints CEO for merger plans The board of Koninklijke Friesland Foods says it will appoint Cees 't Hart as its new chief executive officer on 1 May 2008 to serve as the head of a possibly new entity merged with Campina.

Group chairperson Sybren Attema said that 't Hart's previous experience as a senior vice president of marketing for Unilever would be well suited to the challenges faced by the potential creation of Friesland Campina.

"In various international positions, [t' Hart] has shown the ability to respond well to changing market conditions and to lead organisations in an inspiring manner," he stated.

"We are convinced that, with the intended appointment of 't Hart, we have found an excellent candidate for the position of Chief Executive Officer, initially of Friesland Foods and, if the merger with Campina goes ahead."

The Two companies last month announced that exploratory talks were underway to merge into a global dairy giant.

Former Campina CEO Justin Sanders stood down as a result "to give the talks more chance for success".

Between them, Friesland Foods and Campina have a combined turnover of around €8.3bn euros, and employ 22,000 people.

They are associated with 17,000 dairy farms in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, which supplied a total of 8.7bn kg of milk in 2006.

The companies have said a merger would significantly strengthen their positions both in Europe, Asia and Africa.

New Parmalat trial begins The trial of four international banks alleged to have been involved in market rigging during the financial collapse of dairy group Parmalat began in Milan in Tuesday according to press reports.

Citigroup Inc, UBS, Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley are accused of failing to put measures in place that could have prevented one of Europe's largest ever financial scandals, according to the Dow Jones newswires.

According to the report, more than 40,000 bondholders hope to join the Milan case as civil parties, in a bid to claim millions of dollars in damages and possible restitution if the case goes in Parmalat's favour, with the next hearing scheduled for 7 March.

The Italian dairy giant's fall created one of Europe's largest financial scandals when the company, under a previous administration, defaulted on more than €14bn in debt in 2003.

Under the current leadership of administrator Enrico Bondi, Parmalat has subsequently worked to stave off efforts by an Italian banking conglomerate to disintegrate the group.

This has led to the company pursuing various legal proceedings in Europe and the US against banks allegedly involved in having knowledge of the fraud.

In September, the company settled disputes with Graubuendner Kantonalbank and Credit Agricole Indosuez out of court for the sum of €20.7m and €2.63m respectively.

Parmalat posted financial assets totalling €58.9m during the first financial half of this year as a result of these proceedings.

By comparison, in the company's 2006 full year results, the group posted net debts of €170m. Net gains of €237m from legal settlements with financial institutions allegedly linked to its bankruptcy were highlighted as the key factor in this turnaround.

Nut contamination fears lead to dreyer's recall Nestle owned Ice cream brand Dreyer's has this week recalled a batch of its slow churned ice cream product over fears that pecans not identified on the label could be present, the company said.

The company announced Tuesday that the recall affected 90 cartons of the product sold in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming that bear the code "Best If Purchased By 09/11/08 049-32" .

Both the caramel delight ice cream and Slow Churned light butter pecan ice cream were said to pose a possible contamination risk.

Dreyer's added that none of its other products had been affected, and that there had no reported symptoms form consumers over the scare.

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