Ter Beke, the Belgian fresh prepared foods group, is considering moving into the French market with the acquisition of the chilled pasta meals division if the Agis group.
The two companies have signed a letter of intent which should see Ter Beke take control of the business by early July at the latest.
Agis has a strong position in the French ready meals market where it focuses on three main products: chilled ready meals from traditional French recipes, exotic ready meals and chilled pasta meals.
Ter Beke said that the business, which posted sales of around €11 million in 2002, would fit well with its own increasingly international business.
Ter Beke sells its products in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Austria and more recently the Czech Republic, Portugal and Scandinavia.
Ter Beke specialises in chilled ready pasta meals (Vamos, Come a Casa and Pronto brands) and processed meats (L'Ardennaise and Daniel Coopman brands). Having begun life as a meat processor, the company expanded into the ready meals market in 1994, and these now account for 62 per cent of the group's total volume sales.
The company operates five factories in Belgium: three meat product factories in Flemish-speaking Flanders and two sites in French-speaking Wallonia producing ready pasta meals.
It claims to be the European market leader in chilled lasagne, and last year registered turnover of €185.6 million and net profits of €3.5 million