a2MC today announced it has "received an expression of interest from two associated trade parties with respect to a potential acquisition of all the shares in a2MC."
“The Board intends to seek further information in order to evaluate the Proposal and will update the market on further developments as appropriate," a2MC said in a statement.
It added that the "two associated trade parties" have "requested confidentiality" and may withdraw their interest in a2MC "if it ceases to be confidential."
Despite this, Freedom Foods, already a "significant shareholder" in a2MC, confirmed it and "an unnamed leading international liquid dairy milk company" are behind the "expression of interest."
Freedom Foods and its mystery partner will now enter a period of due diligence "to enable the consortium to determine whether to enter into a bidding proposal."
Mystery "international" dairy
New Hope Dairy, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Freedom Foods in November 2014 to establish intensive dairy farms in South East Australia, is widely assumed to be the Australian firm's mystery "leading international" dairy partner.
Reports emerged earlier today, however, that US dairy giant Dean Foods is Freedom Foods' bidding partner.
a2MC is best known for a2 Milk, which is rich in A2 beta casein protein, but contains no A1 beta casein protein, which has been linked to digestive discomfort.
a2 Milk has proved popular in Australia, where it controls a 9% value share of the country's fresh milk market. Operations have since been established in the UK, China and the US.