French dairy giant Danone has raised its stake in Algerian dairy group Djurdjura from 51% to 95%. Boussaad Batouche, one of Danone’s partners in the venture since the company was formed in 2001, will hold the remaining 5%.

Assuming all administrative requirements are met, the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Danone Djurdura currently leads the market in the Algerian fresh dairy sector, with around a 40% market share. In 2005, the company reported sales in excess of EUR60m (US$74.48). Its main brands are Danao, Oetit Gervais aux Fruits, Activa, Danette and Fruix.

Danone said the move reflects the company’s desire to strengthen its position in North Africa and the Middle East. At present, Danone’s interests in the Middle East and North Africa total EUR1bn through interests in companies enjoying strong leadership positions in local markets.

With annual per capita milk consumption in Algeria totalling seven kilos, compared with an average of 23 kilograms in Western Europe, Danone has identified Algeria as a market that offers good expansion prospects. The growth rate for the dairy sector in Algeria over the last three years has averaged 20% per annum.