Groupe Bel, the French dairy group behind brands like The Laughing Cow and Boursin, is interested in bidding for the stake in yoghurt brand Yoplait owned by PAI Partners, the private-equity firm.
Bel’s rumoured interest, reported by the French newspaper Le Figaro today (19 January), is the latest twist in the battle to buy PAI’s 50% stake in the business, which was put up for sale last year.
Le Figaro said Bel had obtained documents on the sale process, which kicked off in December, and is holding talks with FSI, the state-backed investment fund, over a joint investment. FSI was reported last month to be considering whether to buy a minority stake in Yoplait, which is jointly owned by PAI and Sodiaal, the French dairy co-op that wants to retain his shares.
Bel could not be reached for comment as just-food went to press but the company is the latest company to be linked to Yoplait.
In November, Lactalis had a bid for the whole of Yoplait turned down by PAI and Sodiaal. The shareholders said Lactalis’s offer had failed on two fronts: one, that it under-valued Yoplait and, two, that Sodiaal wanted to keep its shares in the yoghurt maker.
General Mills, the US food giant, which owns the licence to Yoplait across the Atlantic, Nestle, Mexico’s Grupo Lala and Mengniu, the Chinese dairy, have also been linked to the business.