Cheese-giant Lactalis' bid for Parmalat forces company to reveal profits for the first time
French dairy giant Lactalis, maker of President brand cheeses, has been notable for years for the secrecy with which it protected its financial information.
However, in its bid to purchase ailing Italian diary firm Parmalat, EU financial regulations have forced the company to open its books for the first time.
According to French newspaper La Tribune, (automated translation via Google):
To take control of the Italian Parmalat, Europe's leading cheese is obliged to disclose to its competitors, its suppliers and customers, the level of margins. A real revolution for the French group previously anxious to preserve the secrecy of its financial results. The Tribune is still able to be previewed as Lactalis releases an operating margin above 8%.
The article goes on to speculate that Lactalis will be integrating its highly developed industrial optimization technology with Parmalat, to achieve greater efficiency in production.
The sale of Parmalat has been very controversial; before its 2004 bankruptcy, due to billions of dollars of previously undeclared debt, the company had been touted as an example of native Italian business acheivement. In fact, according to the New York Times:
The Italian government last month passed a decree that allowed Parmalat to postpone its annual shareholders’ meeting to the end of June from mid-April, a change intended to give Italian companies and banks time to organize a group of investors willing to outbid Lactalis.
What effect this merger will have on the European cheese industry remains to be seen.