Milan - Parmalat is prepared to definitively leave the Milan Stock Exchange, after five years of minimal presence, with exchanges reduced because the shares available for trading were limited to 12.26% of the capital after Lactalis’s 2011 takeover bid. Yesterday the group controlled by Emmanuel Besnier, the King of Camembert, made a decisive move and announced a full takeover bid at €2.80 per share, with an 8.5% premium on last Friday’s closing price.
The result: for one day the Milan Stock Exchange realised that the stock still existed, since it showed a 10.12% increase, closing at €2.83, with over 5.8 million shares traded compared to an average daily/monthly of under 200,000 shares traded. The goal of the operation, according to Besnier, which operates through its subsidiary Sofil, is to “continue to support” Parmalat’s growth. According to Besnier, this requires taking action “with a limited group of shareholders, rather than diffuse ownership, and in a situation, such as the result of the company’s exit from the Milan Stock Exchange, characterised by fewer burdens and greater organisational and managerial flexibility.”
With the 8.5% premium on the closing price on 23 December and 11.2% on the last month’s trend on the stock exchange (+17.8% in 12 months), Besnier believes that it is offering Parmalat’s shareholders “an opportunity to divest from a stock whose trend was characterised by a low daily volume of trading, with limited stock available for trading after the previous voluntary takeover bid in 2011,” which brought Besnier’s share to over 87%. Azione Parmalat, the association that represents the various small shareholders, did not share this point of view, although it “appreciated this initiative,” but remains “perplexed about the price,” and is inviting its members to “wait until the end” to subscribe. The unions were also critical, calling the operation “no less debateable because it is a multinational with a transparency deficit in terms of the management of its balance sheet.” Lactalis has 4,000 employees in Italy and besides Parmalat, also controls Galbani.