Dairy Crest has sold its minority stake in Yoplait Dairy Crest to venture partner Yoplait, the UK group announced this morning (27 March).

The sale of the 49% stake – in a deal worth GBP63.5m (US$91.6m) – brings an end to a venture first set up in 1991.

Dairy Crest said the move was in line with its strategy to focus on brands it owns outright.

However, chief executive Mark Allen said the sale, which will give Dairy Crest a one-off profit of GBP50m, will give the company more breathing room financially.

“The sale substantially reduces group debt and provides us with more headroom under our banking arrangements,” Allen said.

As part of the deal, Dairy Crest agreed to continued distributing Yoplait brands – including Petits Filous and Frubes – in the UK until March next year.

Yoplait is a business itself owned by two companies. Private equity firm PAI and French dairy co-operative Sodiaal each own a 50% stake in the business.