Danone Promises To Sell Stonyfield To Enable WhiteWave Acquisition

March 31, 2017
Agreement with U.S. Justice Dept. Antitrust Div. should enable WhiteWave closing soon.

To settle antitrust concerns over its pending acquisition of WhiteWave Foods, Danone has agreed to sell its Stonyfield Farm subsidiary. No buyer has been announced.

French yogurt giant Danone announced today (March 31) it reached an agreement in principle with the Antitrust Div. of the U.S. Dept. of Justice "in order to facilitate the prompt closing of the WhiteWave acquisition," which was announced last July. Stonyfield will be sold "in the months following the closing of the acquisition of WhiteWave," a company statement read. "This move is expected to permit closing to occur shortly and will allow the company to proceed at the soonest with the integration and reap the full benefits of the announced synergies.

"While Stonyfield has been a valued part of Danone's portfolio and remains a highly attractive asset, its divestiture does not impact the strategic rationale or financial benefits of the WhiteWave acquisition," it said. Stonyfield generated approximately $370 million in turnover in 2016.

"We are committed to finding the right partner to support Stonyfield's growth journey in the future," said Emmanuel Faber, Danone CEO.

"WhiteWave is expected to accelerate Danone's 2020 profitable growth journey, drive strong value creation and deliver attractive financial benefits, including an above 10 percent EPS [earnings per share] accretion based on run-rate synergies," Faber continued. "Through this perfect match, we will bring together complementary portfolios, including some of the fastest growing, health-focused categories that are strongly aligned with long term consumer trends.

"The combination will allow us to develop a world-leading dairy and plant-based food and beverage portfolio, with a full spectrum of better-for-you offerings, including protein-rich, organic, non-GMO and nutrient-dense choices. With this wider variety of great tasting products, we will reach more consumers and be able to play in more meal occasions and consumption moments like snacking and on-the-go. This acquisition will drive both our business performance and our Alimentation Revolution as we offer healthier and more sustainable eating and drinking options for consumers," Faber said.

Through the WhiteWave transaction, Danone will double the size of its North America business to more than $6 billion in sales, "allowing the company to become a Top 15 food & beverage company in the U.S. and the No. 1 in refrigerated dairy (excluding cheese) in this key strategic geography," the statement read.

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