PARIS , France – General Mills announced today the completion of its acquisition of a 51 percent controlling interest in Yoplait S.A.S., and a 50 percent interest in a related entity that holds the worldwide Yoplait brands, from PAI Partners and Sodiaal in a transaction valued at approximately US$1.2 billion. The remaining ownership stakes in both entities will continue to be held by Sodiaal, France’s leading dairy cooperative.
“Yoplait is a fantastic global brand with tremendous potential,” said Ken Powell, Chairman and CEO, General Mills. “General Mills and Sodiaal are well-positioned to advance and grow the Yoplait brand around the world. It is an exciting combination. ”
Headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, Yoplait is the second-largest brand in the global yogurt market. The business will be governed by a supervisory board with representation from General Mills and Sodiaal. Chris O’Leary, General Mills’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, International, will have management oversight responsibility for General Mills, with Lucien Fa continuing as Yoplait’s executive chairman.
General Mills has licensed the Yoplait brand from Yoplait since 1977, and operates the Yoplait business in the United States. Today, General Mills’ Yoplait USA business holds the No. 1 brand position in the U.S. yogurt category.
“Yoplait is a brand we know well – and yogurt is a global category in which General Mills has been very successful in the United States,” said O’Leary. “With operations in more than 100 markets, General Mills is in a strong position to leverage its global assets and infrastructure to grow Yoplait around the world. The strength of the Yoplait brand, combined with our category knowledge and innovation capabilities, puts us in a position to be a leader in the global yogurt category. We are excited to continue our partnership with Sodiaal and to work with the talented team operating the Yoplait business.”
Sodiaal Chairman Francois Iches said, “This agreement builds upon the long and very successful relationship between Yoplait, General Mills and Sodiaal. Sodiaal and General Mills are focused on continuing to grow and expand Yoplait as a strong, global brand. We welcome this opportunity to build on our partnership to bring Yoplait to new consumers all around the world.”
Consumer demand for yogurt is growing in response to increased interest in foods that emphasize nutrition, convenience, flavor variety and value. General Mills and Sodiaal said they will work to accelerate the growth of Yoplait in existing markets through innovation and brand building.
General Mills said it also will work to expand and grow the Yoplait brand in new geographies.
Yoplait products are available in more than 70 countries around the world. Affectionately known as “the Little Flower,” Yoplait embodies French consumers’ appreciation for quality, taste and nutrition. Yoplait has direct operations in countries such as France, the United Kingdom and Canada, and a network of 26 Yoplait licensees around the world. Yoplait employs approximately 1,900 people worldwide, and reported revenues of €724 million for its fiscal year ended June 30, 2010.
Sodiaal is the largest dairy cooperative in France, accounting for 22 percent of the country’s milk collection and producing liquid milk, cheese, fresh dairy products, butter, milk powder and dairy ingredients. Sodiaal’s consumer brands include Yoplait, Candia, Entremont, Le Rustique, Coeur de Lion, Regilait and Riches Monts. Headquartered in Paris, Sodiaal had 2010 worldwide pro forma revenues of €4 billion, including €1.5 billion from the acquisition of Group Entremont completed on Jan. 3, 2011.
About General Mills
General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its consumer brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2011 net sales of US$14.9 billion.
PAI Partners (“PAI”) is a leading European private equity firm with offices in Paris, Copenhagen, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan and Munich, advising buyout funds with an aggregate equity value of €6 billion. PAI is characterized by its operational approach to ownership combined with industrial and sector expertise.
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