MILAN, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Swiss food group Nestle has submitted an offer to buy Italy’s Ferrero, the maker of Nutella chocolate spread, Italian newspaper La Repubblica said on Thursday, without citing any sources directly involved in the matter.
The paper said people “in the headquarters of several leading national banks” had been talking for days about the Nestle proposal, but negotiations were at an “embryonic” stage.
Banca IMI, the investment arm of bank Intesa Sanpaolo , denied on Thursday any involvement in the matter and said it had no knowledge of any deal involving Nestle and Ferrero. Repubblica reported that Banca IMI may be informally looking into the matter.
Nestle declined to comment. It was not immediately possible to reach Ferrero for a comment.
One industry source told Reuters Nestle was interested in buying Ferrero. Some investment bankers said there was talk in banking circles of a possible tie-up between the two given their complementary businesses.
Other banking sources said they had not heard of an approach and said the Ferrero family did not want to give up control.
Investment banks value privately-owned Ferrero above 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion). It is run by 88-year old patriarch Michele, who has so far never expressed an interest in selling out.
$1 = 0.7412 euros Reporting by Lisa Jucca and Valentina Za, additional reporting by Paola Arosio, Silke Koltrovitz and Anjuli Davies; Editing by Mark Potter