US: Chobani CEO rules out sale, coy on IPO

By Dean Best | 20 December 2012

The chief executive of Chobani, the number one company in the fast-growing Greek yoghurt sector in the US, is not interested in selling the business but has not taken a possible IPO off the table.

In an interview with Reuters, Hamdi Ulukaya, who founded Chobani, said he wanted the company to remain independent.

Ulukaya said he had received interest from companies in buying Chobani but "he "nicely and respectfully" turned them down.

"From Day One that was not my motive. That's not what I want to do. This is a road that I don't want to exit from," Ulukaya said. "Those conversations have ended now. They all understand that we are here to stay."

However, Ulukaya, who launched Chobani in 2007, did not rule floating the company in the years ahead. "We have not spent so much time on that one, but who knows what happens in three or four years when it comes to going public," he said.

When speaking to just-food this week, a spokesperson for Chobani said the company was focusing on its business, rather than think about a listing.

"We are not considering an IPO at this time or anywhere in the near future; we're having too much fun to spend any time thinking about that right now," the spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, Chobani opened its second manufacturing plant in the US as it looks to cater for strong demand for the product.

Chobani is the largest Greek yoghurt producer in the US by sales and has led the growth of the category in recent years. However, last month analysts at Sanford Bernstein claimed Chobani was losing market share at the expense of Danone.

Chobani is still seeing sales increase but not as quickly as its French rival but Sanford Bernstein believed the company could bounce back as it expands capacity.

"We believe that it will regain momentum given increased capacity and more tactical use of promo going forward," the analysts wrote.

Chobani is also looking to start production in Canada. However, the company told just-food it had yet to finalise any plans and was still in talks with local government officials in Ontario.

Sectors: Dairy, Financials

Companies: Chobani, Danone

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