Lactalis says it offers to buy all of Yoplait

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French dairy group Lactalis said on Wednesday it had made an offer to buy 100 percent of Yoplait, the world's second-biggest dairy food producer, aiming to create another French global champion.

With Swiss Nestle and American General Mills, which has made and distributed Yoplait products in the United States for nearly three decades, seen as other possible investors, Lactalis touted its offer as the only one which would leave Yoplait in French hands.

Yoplait is 50-percent controlled by an agricultural cooperative, Sodiaal, with the remaining capital in the hands of investment group PAI, which wants to sell the stake.

Lactal is based in the agricultural region of Brittany, north western France.

Lactalis did not disclose the amount of its offer, but according to the French business daily Les Echos, it has offered 1.3 billion euros, or 10 times Yoplait's annual operating profit.

Yoplait is present in 50 countries and employs 1,500 people, 1,300 of them in France, and has global sales of about 3.5 billion euros, behind only sector-leader Danone.

Yoplait generated about 3.5 billion euros (4.7 billion euros) of revenue last year, mostly through franchises, trailing only Danone in the dairy sector.

Lactalis, maker of President cheese and the Lactel milk, said "only majority control in of the capital in Yoplait would allow implementing a durable strategy."

Lactalis generated 8.5 billion euros of sales last year and employs 38,7000 people (including 15,800 in France) in 136 dairies in 24 countries.

© 2010 AFP

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