Sat, Apr 01, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Danone agrees to sell Stonyfield to acquire WhiteWave


Danone agreed to sell the Stonyfield organic yogurt brand to win approval from US antitrust authorities for its US$10 billion acquisition of soy-milk maker WhiteWave Foods Co.

Danone and the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division reached an agreement in principle that would allow the WhiteWave deal to close shortly, the Paris-based company said in a statement yesterday.

As part of the accord, Danone will sell Stonyfield in the months after the acquisition is completed, the company said.

The divestment “is not the best case,” but will only cut earnings per share by 0.4 percent next year, Pierre Tegner, an analyst at Natixis, wrote in a report.

A sale may value Stonyfield at 871 million euros (US$931 million), including net debt, he wrote.

Stonyfield, founded in 1983, was a pioneer in tapping into rising US. demand for organic foods. Danone took a stake in the Londonderry, New Hampshire-based company in 2001 and bought control in 2004. The brand had sales of about US$370 million last year.

Selling Stonyfield will not change the expected financial benefits of the WhiteWave acquisition, Danone said. Those include adding 0.5 percent to 1 percent to the French company’s full-year like-for-like sales growth.

The move “allows us to take a major step towards completing the WhiteWave transaction expeditiously,” Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber said in the statement. “This is a good outcome as it addresses the DOJ’s concerns and enables Danone to shortly begin to capture the benefits of the combination, and the value creation announced last July.”

With the purchase of Denver-based WhiteWave, announced on July 7, Danone is aiming to kickstart growth amid a drop in dairy consumption. Besides soy milk, the company sells protein shakes and kale, among other products.

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