The Strategist

Danone to buy natural products manufacturer WhiteWave for $ 12.5 billion

07/07/2016 - 16:00

French company Danone, the world's largest yogurt maker, announced its intention to acquire US producer of organic products WhiteWave Foods priced at $ 56.25 per share in cash. The amount of the transaction includes WhiteWave’s debt amounted to $ 12.5 billion, according to Danone’s report.

It is reported that the transaction has been unanimously approved by boards of directors of both companies. The merger is expected to be be completed by the end of the year, if approved by shareholders of WhiteWave and regulators.

This is the largest acquisition for Danone since 2007. Back then, the company bought Dutch baby food maker Royal Numico NV.

Danone expects that purchase of WhiteWave will help increase profits in the first year after closing the deal.

"This deal will allow us to strengthen Danone’s growth and solidify our presence presence in North America. We are convinced that the merger with White Wave will bring profit to all our shareholders." - Said General Director of Danone Emmanuel Faber.

The deal will also help Danone attract more affluent shoppers with WhiteWave’s popular products for a healthy diet. The acquisition is meant to rebalance the company’s activity affected by lower rates on more troubled markets, particularly in Russia and Brazil.

Emmanuel Faber, who headed Danone in 2014, promised to return the French company to "strong profitability and sustainable growth" in 2020. He is going to resume business in China and restructure the dairy products division.

"The transaction will create a leading player in the US market of chilled dairy products, as well as one of the top 15 producers in the US food and beverages," - noted in Danone’s report.

WhiteWave Foods was founded in 1977. The company is engaged in manufacture and distribution of environmentally friendly food and drinks.

In the first quarter of 2016, Danone's sales fell by 3%. At the same time, excluding currency fluctuations, acquisitions and divestments rose by 3.5%, which exceeded analysts' expectations. According to their consensus forecast, sales growth was expected at 3.2%.

In general, Danone expects same-store sales growth of 3-5% in 2016. In addition, the company is waiting for a solid growth in operating margins this year. 

Late last year, Danone opened new targets of sales growth promising to increase profitability of the dairy products division.

The world's largest yogurt maker expects organic sales growth, which excludes impact of exchange rate differences, acquisitions and disposals of assets, more than 5% by 2020, according to Reuters.

It is also expected that operating margin of the dairy production units will increase by at least 200 basis points in the period between 2015 and 2020. 

The dairy division, which accounts for half of Danone's total revenue, owns brands Actimel and Activia. It has projected 3-5 percent growth in organic sales in 2020. Organic sale of mineral water and baby food segments are supposed to constitute 7-10%, and 6.8% in the health food sector.