M&A watchers have been kept busy over the last five days. Wal-Mart made a move into South Africa and Unilever expanded in Greece (and signalled it may sell two UK brands). Meanwhile, speculation over Yoplait and United Biscuits rumbled on and Dairy Crest was the subject of takeover rumours, too. Elsewhere, US food group Campbell Soup Co. and Dutch retailer Ahold announced changes at the top. These were our highlights this week.

Brics and beyond: Wal-Mart seeks foothold in Africa through Massmart
The US retail giant plans to gain a foothold on the African continent through the acquisition of South Africa’s Massmart. What kind of business is Wal-Mart looking to buy? 

Comment: Unilever keeps its focus on food
Unilever’s move to buy shampoo brands Tresemme and VO5 has led some industry watchers to claim the consumer goods giant is undergoing something of a makeover. However, Unilever is keeping its focus on food with a series of less-heralded deals. 

US: Yoplait arbitration “could take years” – General Mills CEO
General Mills’ dispute over its US licence for the yoghurt brand Yoplait could take years to resolve, the US food giant’s chief executive has said.

CHINA/UK: Bright Food “in talks” to buy United Biscuits
Chinese food group Bright Food is in talks to purchase UK-based United Biscuits, according to reports.

GERMANY/UK: Muller builds stake in Dairy Crest
The parent company of privately-owned dairy giant Muller has increased its stake in Dairy Crest, the UK’s largest processor. 

In the spotlight: Campbell Soup Co. – change at the top


It’s all change at the top of Campbell Soup Co., the US food group. CEO Doug Conant is to step down from his role and be replaced by senior company executive Denise Morrison. What will new leadership mean for the soup maker?

UPDATE: NETHERLANDS: Business as usual for Ahold, says outgoing Rishton
The outgoing CEO of Ahold described the appointment of his replacement Dick Boer as a “carefully planned succession” as he assuaged analyst concerns over the Dutch retailer’s performance during the transition. 

The just-food interview – Paul Kaye, Plum Baby
Plum Baby is, quite literally, a baby brand. Founded in 2006, buy-out house Darwin Private Equity this year took control of the UK organic baby-food business. Dean Best spoke with Plum Baby chief executive Paul Kaye. 

SWITZ: Nestle gives fresh impetus to “healthcare nutrition”


Nestle, the world’s largest food maker, today (27 September) announced plans for a new venture to develop products that will help prevent and treat conditions including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Sustainability Watch – Consulting the index
Sustainability indexes may still be regarded as largely irrelevant by many investment analysts but companies increasingly see a listing on the FTSE4Good or the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as an important affirmation of their commitment to corporate responsibility and a measure of their progress. Ben Cooper reports.