UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS — Nutreco and Royal DSM confirmed on July 27 that they have decided to jointly explore the possibility to acquire rival Provimi, should this opportunity arise.

The companies said a further statement will only be made if and when appropriate.

There has been speculation since at least March that Nutreco was preparing a third bid for Provimi, after the French group was put up for sale by its private equity owner, Permira.

Provimi has also attracted interest from Cargill and China-based New Hope Group. Nutreco attempted in 2002 and 2007 to buy Provimi, but was beaten by private equity groups.