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November 1, 2014

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Danone to invest in Yashili to milk taste

FRENCH food company Danone said it will invest 437 million euros (US$550 million) for a minority stake in domestic infant milk formula maker Yashili International as it taps the booming demand for milk powder in China.

Through a private placement at HK$3.70 (48 US cents) per share, Danone would hold 25 percent of Yashili as it extends a strategic alliance it formed with Mengniu last year.

Mengniu would remain Yashili’s controlling shareholder with 51 percent stake after Danone’s acquisition, which is likely to be finalized in a few months after gaining approval from shareholders and regulatory authorities, Danone said in a statement yesterday.

Danone last year paid US$665 million to raise its stake in Mengniu to 9.9 percent to cement its foothold in the dairy segment.

“We are combining Mengniu’s wide-reaching network in China with Danone’s international expertise in infant milk products and we’re confident to grow all our brands in the Chinese market,” Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber said in the statement.

Danone, Mengniu and Yashili will deepen their cooperation in the infant formula business and to possibly invest in Danone’s subsidiary Dumex China with a similar equity structure.

More Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium for high-end infant milk formula products. China’s milk formula market jumped 21 percent to 91.2 billion yuan (US$14.7 billion) last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.

Leading domestic and overseas diary companies have secured alliances and acquisitions. New Zealand’s Fonterra said earlier this year it invested US$515 million for a 20 percent stake in Chinese infant food maker Beingmate Co.


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