The German federal cartel office, the Bundeskartellamt, gave its conditional go-ahead for the deal, which carried a DKK5600m (around €751m) price tag, yesterday, dependant on the sale of Danisco’s plant at Anklem in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
The regulator identified the Dutch firm Cosun as a potential buyer for the plant, saying that “a solution could be expected to emerge soon”.
A spokesperson for Nordzucker confirmed to FoodNavigator.com that the buyer is Cosun.
Cosun executives could not be reached for comment.
However the impending sale of the Anklem plant has re-opened the question of the transaction value. According to Danisco, Nordzucker wishes to re-negotiate the price as a result of the need to divest the Anklem site.
The seller has said it “does not find this supported by the contract”.
The Nordzucker spokesperson did not reveal the price the buyer would like to pay, but said: “We feel that examining all the component parts of the package in the final stages is not only perfectly normal but part of our commercial obligations. This is all the more true when parts of the package saw changes in the meantime.”
No details have been disclosed about the price Cosun will buy the Anklem plant for, or the price that Nordzucker believes is reasonable for the rest of Danisco Sugar. The spokesperson added that Nordzucker is “positive” a satisfactory settlement can be reached soon.
The original contract, signed on 14 July 2008, did give the end of February as the deadline for the transaction’s conclusion.
The Bundeskartellamt said the Anklam site must be sold to a suitable purchaser before the transaction could be completed because its investigations showed that the German domestic market for industrial sugar is characterised by an uncompetitive duopoly between Nordzucker and the country’s number one, Sudzucker.
Number three player Pfeifer & Langen “does not bring substantial competition”, and the opening up of the European market under the new sugar regime has not brought more international competition to Germany to date.
Thus, if Anklam were to be owned by Nordzucker, the joint dominant position of the two giants would be further expanded.
Moreover, the competition authority has said that Anklem’s sugar production quota must not be withdrawn after the transaction, since this is “essential for market activity”.
Nordzucker says it does not share the view of the Bundeskartellamt regarding the competitive environment in the sugar markets.