Shares in Dutch baby food and vitamins group Numico rose sharply last week following rumours of a possible bid from French dairy, biscuits and bottled water group Danone.
Numico has been struggling recently, and its shares had plunged as a result of the dismissal of its US chief and its chief financial officer. But the rumours of a bid from Danone, reported in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, helped the shares rally late on Friday.
After several days of press speculation, Danone finally broke its silence today and said that it had never had any talks with Numico about buying the company, and that it did not intend to have any in the future.
It is certainly hard to see what the interest would have been for Danone, especially at a time when the dairy giant has been steadily divesting all of its non core businesses to focus on its core Danone dairy, LU biscuit and Evian/Volvic water brands.
While the baby food and clinical nutrition businesses owned by Numico could potentially have been of interest to Danone - many dairy groups are active in the baby food sector, such as Campina or Nestlé - the vitamin arm of Numico was never likely to fit with Danone's existing business.
But despite Danone's emphatic statement, the rumour mill has continued to rumble on, with the Dutch press suggesting that other food companies could be interested in doing a deal with Numico. Among those mentioned was Swiss group Novartis, although it too would seem to be an odd choice given its recent moves to divest its consumer foods business.