General Mills Takes Controlling Interest in Yoplait

Global yogurt market in 2010 worth $65 billion

Food giant General Mills finalized on May 18 an agreement to purchase a 51% stake in Yoplait, the world's number two yogurt brand, for around 810 million euros (US$1.15 billion.)

General Mills said "it signed definitive agreements with PAI partners and Sodiaal to acquire a 51% controlling interest in Yoplait S.A.S. and a 50% interest in a related entity that holds the worldwide Yoplait brands for approximately 810 million euros."

PAI partners will sell its 50% stake in Yoplait while Sodiaal will offer 1%, thereby remaining active in the management of the company with its 49% holding.

General Mills, which owns the Haagen-Dazs ice cream brand, has marketed Yoplait products under license in the United States, and following regulatory approval and closing of the transaction, it and Sodiaal will drop their dispute over that arrangement.

"We see tremendous opportunities to work together to become a major competitive force in the development of global yogurt markets," General Mills' chief operating officer Chris O'Leary and Sodiaal President Gerard Budin said.

General Mills estimates the global yogurt market in 2010 to have been worth $65 billion, with good growth potential as consumers place increasing importance on healthy diet.

Yoplait's products are available in more than 70 countries, including through a network of 26 franchisees that licenses Yoplait brands.

The company employs 1,900 people and had sales of 724 million euros in its 2010 fiscal year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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