China's Mengniu Dairy is to buy a majority stake interest in local yoghurt manufacturer Junlebao Dairy for CNY469.2m (US$70.6m).

Mengniu is to acquire 51% of Junlebao but said the business will continue to operate independently and management will remain unchanged.

Upon completion of the deal, Mengniu's share of the yoghurt market will increase to more than 30%.

According to a statement issued on Monday (22 November), Junlebao is the largest yoghurt manufacturer in northern China, with a turnover of approximately CNY1.26bn in 2009.

Mengniu said the two companies will share raw milk sources and R&D, which will "create more high value-added quality yoghurt products to meet diverse consumer needs".

Mengniu chief executive director Yang Wenjun, said: "The acquisition of Junlebao is an initiative of Mengniu to achieve its objective to become one of the world's ten best dairy enterprises within five years. It combines the strengths of two companies, enhancing our position in the low-temperature refrigerated dairy products segment."