VILNIUS - The investment company Hermis Fondu Valdymas, which just assumed control over Lithuania's largest dairy, Rokiskio Suris, said last week that it was considering taking over another dairy, Zemaitijos Pienas.
The daily Verslo Zinios said it had learned that HFV already owns more than 10 percent of the dairy through unrelated companies, though HFV CEO Nerijus Dagilis denied this, stressing that any deal would depend on the country's competition authorities.
"I do not rule out the possibility that we may acquire Zemaitijos Pienas. Everything will depend on the competition council," Dagilis said.
After Lithuania joins the EU in May, the competition council is not expected to place major obstacles to the merger of the two dairies.
If it were to proceed, the merged megadairy would not only reign supreme on the Lithuanian market but would also be attractive to foreign investors, specialists said.
Rokiskio Suris CEO Antanas Trumpa said this deal would give both companies 20 million litas (5.8 million euros) in extra value from joint operations. "Most importantly, competition would decrease in selling products abroad. It would be possible to specialize, with one company making fresh dairy products and the other producing cheese products. Third, the mechanism of raw milk purchases would improve, and it would be cheaper to acquire additional ingredients," Trumpa said.
Previously it had been reported that Zemaitijos Pienas was aiming to acquire Kelmes Pienine, a dairy that is also controlled by HFV, but this rumor was strongly denied by Dagilis.
Also, Rokiskio Suris elected a new five-member board last week, and Dagilis, the newly elected chairman, stressed that there would be no major strategic changes in the dairy's long-term planning.
"The company's strategy is not changing... Market changes are possible after Lithuania becomes an EU member, but it is not absolutely clear what those changes will be or what subsidies will be available," said Dagilis.