Qualium, (formerly CDC Ixis), one of the main shareholders in the company controlling French cocoa powder brands, Banania and Benco, has put its stake up for sale.

Qualium, along with another investment group, Electropar, acquired the brands, which also included the Yabon yogurts label, from Unilever in 2003. Yabon was sold off in 2005.

Qualium’s stake represents around one-third of the company’s capital and it has commissioned mid-caps transactions specialist, Sodica, part of the Crédit Agricole group, to find a buyer.  Electropar and Banania and Benco’s other main shareholder, Cerea, which  took a stake in 2007, are expected to maintain their investment.

just-food understands that Qualium’s pull-out reflects the poor market conditions in the cocoa powder segment, largely a result of fierce competition exerted by breakfast cereals and fruit juices.

The segment has enjoyed minor growth this year, but that growth was dominated by Nestlé-owned  Nesquik, which in the first five months recorded an increase of 11% in volumes compared to a decline of 9.7 % and 2% for Banania and Benco respectively.