Danone SA on July 3 revealed an agreement to sell Stonyfield Farm to Lactalis SA for $875 million, about 2.5 times the small yogurt company's sales and 20 times earnings. Both buyer and seller are French, but Stonyfield is headquartered in Londonderry, N.H.
The sale was required in an agreement Danone reached months ago with the U.S. Department of Justice to allow Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave. All three companies have significant yogurt businesses in the U.S.
Lactalis, still a family-owned company, is one of the world's largest dairy companies, with sales estimated at 16 billion euros ($18 billion). It's best known in the U.S. for its cheese brands President, Rondele and Sorrento, the last two relating to U.S. acquisitions a decade or more ago. In the U.S., it has factories in Belmont, Wis., and Nampa, Idaho.
Other bidders for Stonyfield reportedly included Dean Foods Co., Mexico’s Grupo Lala and China’s largest dairy company, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co.