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Danone to sell 14pc stake in Japan’s Yakult

A general view with a giant jar of yogurt is seen outside the exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the French foods company Danone, in Paris April 2, 2009. — Reuters picA general view with a giant jar of yogurt is seen outside the exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the French foods company Danone, in Paris April 2, 2009. — Reuters picPARIS, Feb 14 — French food group Danone , which is facing investor pressure to boost returns, plans to sell a 14 per cent stake in Japanese probiotics maker Yakult, both companies said today.

The sale of two-thirds of Danone’s current Yakult holding could fetch about €1.5 billion (RM7.32 billion), based on market prices.

Danone, the world’s largest yoghurt maker, said the sale would be carried out via a market transaction initiated by Yakult, which is expected to be settled in March.

Yakult also announced a ¥36 billion Japanese (RM1.3 billion) share buyback program in which Danone will participate.

The French group will retain a 7 per cent stake in Yakult.

Along with Swiss food group Nestle and Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group Unilever, Danone has been facing investor pressure to boost shareholder returns.

Danone has lagged behind the growth of some rivals, largely due to weakness in its European dairy business in the face of sluggish demand and private label competition. — Reuters

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