China’s Sanyuan Foods and Fosun Group are to team up to buy the controlling shareholders in France’s cheese and yogurt maker St. Hubert for EUR625m (US$733m).

The two companies have signed an agreement to purchase Brassica TopCo and PPN Management SAS, which are the major shareholders in St Hubert, from European private-equity firm Montagu.

According to St. Hubert’s website, the company generated net sales of EUR129m in its 2015/16 financial year. Up to and including that 12-month period, St. Hubert grew at an average of 3.3% a year.

Western companies had dropped out of the auction, Reuters reported on Friday (28 July). The transaction is subject to approval from competition and regulatory authorities.

“The proposed acquisition … introduces healthy and innovative foods into China and is aligned with the government’s policy to support and drive technological innovation,” Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang said in a statement.

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By GlobalData

Montagu bought St. Hubert from Dairy Crest along with the company’s management in 2012 in a deal worth EUR430m.

St. Hubert CEO Patrick Cahuzac said: “With the help of Fosun and Sanyuan, we are excited by the prospect of further growing our leadership position in France and Italy and accelerating our international expansion, particularly in the Chinese market which has significant potential.”

Guo, meanwhile, has given his backing to a Chinese crackdown on overseas investment, he said in a note posted on Fosun’s microblog on Saturday (29 July).

Tougher rules were “essential and timely” to root out risky investments and sort out financial “chaos”, he said. “If no steps were taken then foreigners would simply think that Chinese firms were just ‘silly money’,” he said.