Blog: General Mills' Yoplait challenge
Dean Best | 18 March 2011
And so, with the news that General Mills is in exclusive talks to buy into dairy business Yoplait, we could be reaching the end of one of the more closely-fought takeover battles the food industry has seen in recent months.
When it emerged last summer that a stake in Yoplait could soon be on the block after one of the yoghurt brand's two shareholders PAI Partners announced it wanted to sell up, General Mills was seen as a likely candidate to enter any auction for the shares.
The US food group had held the Yoplait licence across the Atlantic since 1977 and had built the brand in its domestic market - a market where yoghurt consumption still lags behind Europe.
However, during the autumn, news broke that General Mills and Sodiaal, the other shareholder in Yoplait, had fallen out over the future of the US licence. Sodiaal first wanted to renegotiate the terms of the deal. Then, it wrote to General Mills to say it wanted to end the deal in 2012. General Mills said the agreement did not allow for renegotiation or termination in those circumstances and called for an arbitration panel.
Sodiaal, meanwhile, had said that, even if PAI sold its shares, it still wanted to remain an investor in Yoplait. On the face of it, Sodiaal's dispute with General Mills made it harder to see the US group becoming the French dairy co-op's long-term partner in Yoplait.
However, with General Mills now in exclusive talks to buy PAI's stake in Yoplait, it seems the two companies will soon be working together a lot more closely.
Some analysts in the US believe General Mills moved for PAI's shares to remove the risk of it losing the US licence to Yoplait, a brand that accounts for 15% of the company's sales.
Should General Mills secure an agreement and become a Yoplait shareholder, its US licence will be safe but the next task will be to expand the dairy business globally.
In 2002, when Sodiaal sold a 50% stake in Yoplait to PAI and became a part shareholder in the business, the co-op hoped the partnership with the private-equity fund would boost growth in emerging markets. With over 80% of Yoplait's sales in North America and Europe, General Mills would have something of a job to do.
Hain Celestial, under the scrutiny of the investment community in recent months and facing some challenges in its domestic market, has announced another shuffling of its management pack....
FrieslandCampina, which today served up higher profits but lower sales for 2016, is ready to offload the last non-dairy business owned by the Dutch cooperative giant....
To follow on from our earlier notice and after some hard work from our technical team, just-food is back live after today's power outage....
Much of the UK has felt the impact of Storm Doris today - and just-food's head office has been no exception....
- General Mills sales woes continue - analysis
- Comment: Meal kits in US - don't believe the hype
- Why personalisation will take-off in US food
- US food next wave on display at Winter Fancy Food
- Analysis: Chocolate sector's deforestation pledge
- Kraft Heinz cuts jobs in US, Canada
- Immigration crackdown "risk" for US dairy industry
- Fonterra cuts earnings forecast
- Unilever invests in Dutch meat substitute project
- General Mills books lower 9M sales and profits