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General Mills takes 50-per-cent stake in Yoplait

U.S. food giant to grow the yogurt brand in Europe


Minneapolis, Minn.-based General Mills has succeeded in acquiring a 50-per-cent share in French yogurt manufacturer Yoplait.

Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, according to the Wall Street Journal one source puts the value of the offer at US$2.2 billion. Yoplait has been valued at 1.6 billion Euros.

Last week General Mills, one of the world’s largest food manufacturers, announced it had entered exclusive negotiations with private equity firm PAI and French dairy co-operative Sodiaal, joint owners of Yoplait. The competitive bidding process for the yogurt brand began late last year, and drew interest from companies from around the world, including Switzerland’s Nestle SA, French dairy company Groupe Lactalis, and Bright Foods of China.

General Mills has a long-standing relationship with the dairy giant, and has held the brand licence for Yoplait in the U.S. since 1977. Under the deal, Sodiaal will continue to be a joint owner of the Yoplait brand worldwide, and will be a core shareholder of the operating company.

In a press release from PAI, the company notes that General Mills plans on strengthening Yoplait’s market position in Western Europe, as well as accelerating its international expansion, particularly in emerging markets such as China and India, where General Mills already has a presence. The acquisition also allows General Mills to boost its portfolio of healthy products, as well as to grow operations in France.