French poultry group LDC has submitted a takeover bid for Doux, joining Ukraine’s MHP in a battle to acquire the loss-making Brittany-based firm that employs 1,200 workers.
Doux has struggled to compete against cheaper Brazilian chicken in its main Middle Eastern markets in recent years after the scrapping of European Union export subsidies.
Its majority shareholder, French agricultural cooperative Terrena, has said it cannot afford further investments and has been in talks with a French government restructuring body to seek partners for Doux.
A spokeswoman for LDC, France’s largest poultry processor, confirmed on Wednesday the company had made a formal offer for Doux, declining to give details.
MHP, a leading poultry producer in Ukraine, later said it would submit a formal bid before a deadline at midnight local time (2200 GMT), after announcing a preliminary proposal earlier this month.
MHP would invest 76 million euros ($94 million) as part of a plan focused on developing fresh chicken for the French market, supported by the construction of a new factory in Brittany, it said in a statement.
The investment plan, which would involve a restructuring of the frozen chicken export business, would save 285 jobs and create around 430 jobs through the new production facility, it said.
Brittany, a major region for livestock farming and meat processing, is threatened with the loss of jobs at a smaller poultry firm, Tilly-Sabco, which was placed under court protection this week.
Like Doux, Tilly-Sabco has been through several rescue deals since EU export aid ended.
Doux also plans to file for insolvency, with a business court due to hear its request next week. Union representatives at the firm said insolvency proceedings could help conclude a takeover deal.
Terrena, which has said Doux lost around 35 million euros ($43 million) in each of the past two years, estimates the poultry firm needs 100 million euros in investment to reorganise its business model. ($1 = 0.8118 euros)
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