Italian energy company Edison and a consortium of sugar beet producers said on Friday that they had, once again, agreed to extend exclusive talks on the sale of Edison's 54 per cent stake in French sugar company Beghin-Say, to give the consortium more time to raise cash.
The exclusive negotiation period has been prolonged to 30 September from Friday, the parties said.
Edison, which is divesting its food assets in order to focus on energy, entered six-week talks with the French consortium in mid-June, meaning the exclusivity period should have closed by the end of July. Last Friday, the company had already extended the talks to 2 August.
The French consortium in mid-July said it had almost raised enough money to go ahead with the €40-a-share deal to buy Edison's 53.8 per cent stake in Beghin-Say.
The consortium is made up of French sugar co-operative Union SDA and beet growers group Union BS which is relying on its members to provide part of the €550 million needed to buy Beghin-Say and keep it in French hands.
The sugar maker has a market capitalisation of around €1 billion and is France's leading sugar producer. It was one of four food groups left over after the break-up of food processor Eridania Beghin-Say, which was put up for sale after its previous owner Montedison - also the owner of Edison - was bought by Fiat-led Italenergia.