General Mills closes Yoplait deal

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 20th May 2011

General Mills said today yesterday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase a controlling stake in French yoghurt maker Yoplait for EUR810m (US$1.15bn).Under the agreement with Yoplait’s current owners, private-equity group PAI Partners and French dairy co-operative Sodiaal, General Mills with acquire a 51% stake in Yoplait and a 50% stake in a related entity that holds the worldwide rights to the Yoplait brand.

Sodiaal, which founded Yoplait, will hold the remaining interest in both groups and the business will be governed by a supervisory board with representation from the French co-op and General Mills.

Chris O’Leary, chief operating officer for General Mills’ international arm, will have management oversight responsibility for Yoplait at the US company.

In a joint statement, O’Leary and Sodiaal international president Gérard Budin emphasised the companies’ goal to grow Yoplait worldwide. “We see tremendous opportunities to work together to become a major competitive force in the development of global yoghurt markets,” they said.

General Mills originally announced in March that it had entered into exclusive negotiations to buy a controlling stake in Yoplait. It was one of seven companies that registered interest in the group when PAI Partners revealed that it planned to sell its stake in the company.

The agreement also draws to a close a legal wrangle between General Mills and Sodiaal regarding the former’s rights to the Yoplait brand in the US market. General Mills will continue to market Yoplait in the US under the licence agreement, the company said.

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