General Mills GIS +0.05% said that it signed definitive agreements with PAI partners and Sodiaal to acquire 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 for approximately EUR810 million. Sodiaal, the leading French dairy cooperative, will hold the remaining ownership stakes in both entities. Headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, Yoplait is the second largest brand in the global yogurt market, a category with 2010 retail sales totaling approximately US $65 billion. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval. General Mills currently expects the transaction to close during the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year, which will begin on May 30, 2011.
Yoplait products are available in more than 70 countries around the world. The company has direct operations in countries including France, the United Kingdom and Canada, and also manages a network of 26 franchisees that license Yoplait brands. Yoplait employs approximately 1,900 people and reported revenues of EUR724 million for its fiscal year ended June 30, 2010. In December 2010, Yoplait acquired the Liberte yogurt business in Canada. Liberte reported sales of CDN $186 million for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2010.
The business will be governed by a supervisory board with representation from General Mills and Sodiaal. Chris O'Leary, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer—International, will have management oversight responsibility for the business at General Mills.
In a joint statement, O'Leary and Sodiaal International President Gerard Budin said that General Mills and Sodiaal intend to work together to support accelerated growth of Yoplait worldwide. The global yogurt market is one of the most attractive food categories in the world. Consumer demand is growing in response to increased interest in foods that emphasize nutrition, convenience, flavor variety and value. In addition, per capita consumption levels for yogurt are still quite low in many international markets. "We see tremendous opportunities to work together to become a major competitive force in the development of global yogurt markets," they said.
General Mills and Yoplait have agreed that, upon closing of this transaction, the parties will formally withdraw from the current arbitration pertaining to the U.S. Yoplait license. General Mills will continue to market Yoplait yogurt in the United States under the license agreement.
About Sodiaal: 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 and Regilait. Headquartered in Paris, France, Sodiaal had 2010 worldwide proforma revenues of EUR4 billion, including EUR1.5 billion from the acquisition of Group Entremont completed on January 3, 2011.
About PAI: 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 EUR 6 billion. PAI is characterized by its operational approach to ownership combined with industrial and sector expertise.
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, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2010 worldwide sales of US $16 billion, including the company's US $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.
Barclays Capital and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are serving as advisors to General Mills on this transaction.