The Lactalis American Group debacle: Is Parmalat finally out of the woods?

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

The LAG debacle: Is Parmalat finally out of the woods?

Related tags: Parmalat, Police

With Lactalis owner B.S.A set to refund $130m of the $904m Parmalat paid to acquire Lactalis American Group (LAG) in May 2012, the Italian dairy giant is confident it has seen the back of the investigations into the legality of its dealings.

Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Parmalat spokesman, Fabio Caporizzi, said that with the civil investigation effectievly behind it, the company is now just waiting for a conclusion from prosecutors leading a criminal investigation into the deal.

“Parmalat considers that with the price adjustment almost completed, the civil investigation is over,”​ said Caporizzi. “It is highly probable that B.S.A. will pay the agreed $130m price adjustment to Parmalat. We are confident that this will be the end of this whole investigation.”

“Now we are just waiting for the closure of the criminal investigation into the deal.”

Parmalat’s intra-group acquisition of LAG became the subject of civil and criminal probes in Italy following its completion last year. The investigations were sparked by concerns that the deal was pushed through by B.S.A. – the majority shareholder of both companies – to drain Parmalat’s then €1.5bn cash pile.

A civil investigation into the deal ended in April 2013 when a special commissioner was appointed to oversee a pre-agreed assessment of the acquisition price. Last month, Parmalat announced that had requested a $144m reduction in the price it paid to B.S.A.

Following negotiations, Parmalat and B.S.A agreed on a slightly-reduced figure of $130m. DairyReporter.com understands that this price reduction will officially be announced by Parmalat at its shareholders meeting today.

Parmalat “happy to pay less” for LAG

According to Caporizzi, Parmalat is more than satisified with its purchase of LAG - despite the months of scrutiny that followed the completion of the deal.

“Parmalat is happy to have bought a company that strengthens its presence in the US,”​ he said.

And of course, Parmalat is happy to pay less for a business that stands at the same value as it did at the time we bought it.”

“We do not want to focus on the financial side of this transaction, but on the fact that we are now a major player in the US market because of it.”

Commenting on the recently concluded civil investigation into the LAG deal, Caporizzi attempted to play down the court’s role in the $130m LAG price reduction.
 
“It is easy to say that without the civil investigation there wouldn’t have been this price adjustment,”​ he said. “But when we made the deal with B.S.A to acquire LAG it was written into the contract that at the end of 2012 the transaction price would be re-evaluated.”

“So for Parmalat, this price adjustment was not a surprise, it was actually planned that way from the start.”

Parmalat “confident’ everything will end well

With the civil investigation into its dealings now concluded, Parmalat has just the outcome of a criminal investigation to worry about – although according to Caporizzi, the company isn’t too concerned.

“Nothing wrong has been done by the board or the management of Parmalat, and we are confident that everything will end in a good way,”​ he said, adding that both the civil and criminal investigations could have been much more straight forward.

“When a criminal investigation is on-going, usually no information is made public. But in my country sometimes this happens.”

“It is not usual for information about a criminal investigation comes out, but it did this time and it is unfortunate,”​ he added.

Related topics: Manufacturers

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