Compass Group's subsidiary in Italy has filed a defence and a counter-claim in Milan against a case bought against it in April by Italian motorway restaurant operator Autogrill.
The two companies are both competing for contracts to run motorway service areas (MSAs) in Italy, an area of huge growth with a large number of contracts coming up.
Compass is claiming €140m (£93m) in damages against Autogrill over alleged unfair competition and violation of EU anti-trust rules.
It has accused Autogrill of obstructing its entry in to the Italian MSA market through Moto, its joint venture with food group Cremonini SpA.
In April, Autogrill lodged a €150m (£99.2m) case against Compass, also alleging unfair competition. It claimed Compass had poached former senior Autogrill employees and used confidential Autogrill information when tendering for MSA contracts.
Compass said it would "vigorously resist the Autogrill claim" and added that it did not believe Autogrill's case would "have any material effect on the group's financial condition."
The Compass case is expected to be heard at the start of November.
by Angela Frewin
Buy this week's Caterer magazine for more industry news and analysis