China's Bright Food talks up Yoplait bid

4th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

China's Bright Food Group has said a tie-up with France's Yoplait would bring expansion opportunities in the massive Chinese market, as it promotes a bid for a stake in the French company.

Bright Food has been rebuffed in a number of efforts to expand globally.

However Wang Zongnan, chairman of the food conglomerate, said in a statement late Thursday: "The growth potential for China's dairy market is huge. Bright hopes to expand the market with Yoplait."

"Bright wants to accelerate going global and expand its dairy business through mergers and cooperation," said Wang, who recently travelled to France to meet Yoplait's major shareholders.

Switzerland's Nestle and General Mills of the United States are also among those interested in buying a 50 percent stake in Yoplait, which is owned by private equity firm PAI Partners, a person familiar with the situation told AFP last month.

Last year the Chinese company failed in a bid for the sugar and biofuels unit of Australia's CSR.

It also reportedly abruptly ended acquisition discussions with US nutritional product retailer GNC and Britain's United Biscuits.

However Ge Junjie, deputy general manger of Bright Food, said in remarks published Friday that the company was optimistic about its bid to buy the Yoplait stake despite "quite fierce" competition and the company was serious about the deal.

"Capital for bidding is not a problem for us, but we believe the deal is very important for the company," he told the official China Daily newspaper in an interview.

Le Figaro newspaper reported last month that Bright Food had tabled the highest bid for PAI Partners' 50 percent stake in Yoplait, valuing the French firm at around 1.7 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

Yoplait is present in 50 countries and has global sales of some 4.0 billion euros. Bright Food recorded revenue of 80 billion yuan ($12.2 billion) in 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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