PAI ready to sell Yoplait in €1.3bn deal

FRENCH private equity fund PAI Partners could launch the sale of its 50 per cent stake in French yoghurt maker Yoplait later this month with interest likely to come from international food giants or other private bidders.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food group, may team up with Europe’s largest dairy group Lactalis to bid, French daily Le Figaro reported yesterday.

A spokesman for PAI Partners said that the sale process would take several months.
“We are not far away from the beginning of the process,” he said.

Banks were hired a few months ago, including BNP Paribas and Rothschild, which are advising PAI, and Morgan Stanley, which is managing the sale.

The unlisted Yoplait, which is valued at over €1.3bn (£1.1bn), has been in the spotlight since the summer when PAI said it wanted to sell.

The second Yoplait stakeholder, France’s largest milk cooperative Sodiaal, reiterated yesterday it had no intention of reducing its stake.

The sale is expected to draw interest from Nestle, General Mills, which distributes the Yoplait brand in the United States, and Asian food groups.

Private equity funds are also tipped as possible buyers but PAI has said an industry buyer would be most likely.