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French consortium bids for Doux

A consortium of six companies: LDC, Terrena, Duc, Trislakia, Tilly-Sabo and Sofiprotéol subsidiary Glon Sanders, have submitted a joint offer for Doux, Reuters reports. The offer concerns all Doux activities, but does not cover Doux's debts to various financial institutions, the chief creditor of which being Barclays Bank.

Doux’s entry into administration early last June threatens the jobs of 3,400 workers and the livelihood of 800 farmers in France.

Family-owned Doux, one of the world's biggest poultry exporters, has been weighed down by debts of €340 million ($423 million) and administrators had launched a call for bids, with a deadline on Thursday ahead of a commercial court hearing on July 16.

Sofiprotéol said that through its subsidiary Glon Sanders, it would lead the consortium consisting of poultry firms Duc, LDC and Tilly-Sabco, and farm cooperatives Terrena and Triskalia.

Sofiprotéol is a holding company for a series of farm-sector companies, centred on oilseed crops and derived products, but which also extends to animal feed, egg and pig-breeding sectors.

The offer will be joint and coordinated by the oilseed growers-owned group, but each company involved will take over part of the activities, the former chief executive of Sofiprotéol and chairman of Glon, Philippe Tillous-Borde, told a conference call.

"We will coordinate, guide, then will come the time when each will take its responsibilities in the daily management," he said.

He said the joint offer, which will be submitted to Doux employees on Friday morning, concerned all the activities of the poultry group, including exports, fresh and transformed poultry products and animal feed, but he could not confirm that all jobs would be maintained.

Doux is 80 percent family-owned, with the remainder held by French bank BNP Paribas.

No reimbursement of Doux debts
The offer does not include a reimbursement of Doux's debts to financial institutions. Doux said last month its debt included €140 million to British bank Barclays.

"The joint bid is really part of a sale process and does not involve negotiations with financial lenders, such as Barclays, to name the main one, and others," Tillous-Borde said.

He said, however, that it included Doux's debts to breeders.

The activities of Doux in Brazil, are not part of the offer either, Tillous-Borde said. The group bought a subsidiary, Frangosul, in 1998 in Brazil and has debts of €200 million in the Latin American country.
France's new Socialist government has taken an active role in managing the situation as it tries to avoid a wave of factory closures after unemployment hit its highest level since 1999.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll and Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg said in a joint statement this week they wanted a global solution "which, around a real industrial project, will allow a maximum number of jobs to be saved".

Source: Reuters

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