Groupe Lactalis, France, and Swiss Nestle, say they will partner to produce and market a portfolio of chilled dairy yogurts and desserts in Europe under established Nestle brands. The proposal is to be implemented in 2006, and on completion Nestle will hold 40% of the proposed venture's shares while Lactalis will hold 60%. Annual sales for the product line are expected to total about $1.8 billion.

Nestle has also acquired Delta Ice Cream SA in a deal worth around $290 million. With sales of $144 million in 2004 and four production facilities, Delta Ice Cream is the leading ice cream business in Greece as well as in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.

The transaction will significantly expand Nestle's position in the growing ice cream market in Greece and the Balkans, the company said.

Finally, stock prices for British Dairy Crest jumped last month on word that Lactalis was considering a takeover bid.