Business World

Thursday 21 June 2018

Danone to sell part of Yakult stake

Activia fat-free yoghurt
Activia fat-free yoghurt
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

French food company Danone, whose brands include activia and evian, has announced that it is to sell part of its 21pc stake in Yakult.

The stake, which Danone intends to reduce as part of Yakult’s share buyback of JPY 36bn (€271m), is worth €2.29bn at current market prices, according to Davy analysts.

The company anticipates holding a stake of around 7pc stake in the Japan-based Yakult post sell-down.

According to analysts at Davy, the divesture is estimated to raise net proceeds of €1.54bn.

Following the completion of the transaction, Danone is expected to remain Yakult’s largest shareholder and to continue to sit on its board of directors.

It is expected that the transaction will be completed in March.

Since 2004 a collaboration has existed between Danone and Yakult, and in a statement today Danone said that the companies were confirming their commitment to "a long-term strategic relationship, and shared vision to promote probiotics as part of a balanced diet."

"From a commercial perspective, the partners will study the feasibility of new collaboration projects such as the distribution of Yakult’s products by Danone in European markets, where the brand is not currently engaged in substantial business," Danone said.

The Spanish market will be the initial test market for the distribution collaboration.

In its most recent results, delivered in October last year, reported sales at Danone increased 16.6pc year-on-year to €6.4bn in the three months to 30 September 2017.

The strong performance reflected accelerating growth in infant formula sales in China, as well as progress in Danone’s strategic priorities, such as the expansion of tailored nutrition products.

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