Danone marches towards Numico acquisition

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Groupe danone

Groupe Danone expects to conclude its acquisition of nutrition
company Numico in the first half of November, the two companies
said today, setting a timetable for the French group's bid to lead
the field in health and nutrition.

The French company made a proposal to acquire the baby food company for €55 per ordinary share in cash on July 9, amounting to a total of €12.3bn. The move is expected to propel it into a top three spot in major markets for nutrition and infant products. . Danone followed up on the proposed offering by going ahead and acquiring 29.57 per cent of outstanding shares in Numico on the market. It will hold 100 per cent of the specialised nutrition company - which holds a leading position in baby food and clinical nutrition - when the deal is closed. The companies said today they are making "good progress"​ towards a the public offer; the proposal has the unanimous acceptance of Danone's supervisory board and Numico's executive board. Danone has said its focus will remain on dairy, which is expected to account for 51 per cent of sales, beverages 27 per cent share, and nutrition, the new "third pillar", 22 per cent. Danone has said it will retain Numico's existing business structure in order to maintain profitability. Numico last year posted profits of €483m, and posted operating profit margins of 18.4 per cent. Danone's chairman Franck Riboud said in July that acquiring Numico would allow the company to move ahead of its rivals within the competitive marketplace. "The combination of the two groups will create a unique food company - the one with the clearest and most powerful health positioning in the world,"​ he said. "With this project, we are designing a new Groupe Danone, enhancing dramatically its growth profile and its growth potential for the years to come."​ Groupe Danone certainly not the only major food firm taking a stance on health and nutrition. For instance Nestle, the world's largest food company, has had a nutrition division for a number of years and an on-going programme of research which involves partnering with ingredients firms and research institutes to develop new nutrition technologies. As for Groupe Danone's rationale in taking the health and nutrition route, Riboud cited an ageing population, growing awareness of the importance of nutrition to health, and the rising costs of medical care as key factors that would continue to drive consumer demand for healthier products in developed markets. Danone recently announced that it is exiting the biscuit business by selling that arm of its business to Kraft for €5.3bn. This manoeuvre is a further indication of its commitment to a healthy future.

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