Finnish dairy company Valio has said it has signed a letter of intent with Dutch food and nutrition company Numico over the sale of the Valio baby food business and baby food trademarks “Tutteli” and “Muksu” to Numico.

The acquisition excludes the production facilities in Turenki and Lapinlahti, Finland. The companies said they plan to jointly cooperate in terms of production, distribution and logistics. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to be finalised before the end of the third quarter of 2004.

Valio said the sale formed part of the company’s plan to focus on its core business. The company also announced this week that it would sell its ice cream unit to Nestlé for the same reason.

“Valio will continue to produce baby food as a contract supplier to Numico and we intend to initiate cooperation together with Numico in the field of research and development,” said Harry Salonaho, president and CEO of Valio.

Jan Bennink, CEO of Numico, said the deal reinforces its objective of becoming the leading high-growth, high-margin specialised nutrition company.

In 2003, net turnover of Valio baby foods stood at €20m (US$24.1m).