Dallas-based Dean Foods Company, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the US, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the 64% equity interest in soymilk producer White Wave it does not currently own.

Boulder-based White Wave produces Silk®, the leading refrigerated soymilk in the US, and had sales of about US$125m during the twelve months ended 31 March 2002.

"We are extremely excited about this," said Dean Foods' chairman and CEO Gregg Engles: "We believe that soymilk is one of the most promising branded growth opportunities in the food and beverage industry today.

"We believe White Wave is well positioned to take advantage of the explosive growth potential that this category holds. Dean Foods is committed to investing and innovating in the functional beverage arena, and this transaction is another step toward delivering on that commitment."

Steve Demos, founder and president of White Wave, added: "By joining forces with Dean Foods, we will have more resources available to innovate, extend our brand and expand our distribution."

Dean Foods will pay US$189m for the remaining 64% interest in White Wave, bringing Dean's total investment to about US$204m. Dean Foods anticipates that the transaction will have a neutral effect on earnings in the first full year after closing.

Demos will remain president of White Wave, reporting directly to Engles. White Wave and its existing management team will continue to be based in Boulder.

The agreement also resolves the outstanding litigation between White Wave and Dean Foods regarding Dean's option to acquire the 64% stake. Closing of the transaction is subject to the expiration of the Hart-Scott Rodino waiting period and other customary closing conditions.

To read about Dean Foods' latest results, announced today, click here.