FRANCE – Danone has announced that it has completed the US$1.6 billion sale of its 14% stake in the Japanese dairy manufacturer, Yakult after signing a MoU to strengthen probiotic collaboration.

In an announcement it made on February 14 2018, Danone said it has sold 24,600,000 shares of Yakult Honsha Co. in a transaction that will reduce its stake in the company to 6.61% from the previously held 21.29%.

This was part of Danone’s divestment plans in a bid to leverage its operations in organic growth, and maximizing efficiencies towards 2020 for sustainable value creation.

Danone acquired the North American and European producer of organic products for US$10 billion in a way to branch out into faster-growing organic food and drinks, reports Bloomberg.

Despite of the transaction, Danone remains Yakult’s largest shareholder and will nominate two directors for approval at the Annual General Meeting of shareholders.

Danone and Yakult will continue to work together in a long-term relationship that will open way for future mutually-beneficial collaboration.

In a memorandum of understanding signed earlier, the two companies agreed to continue engage in existing joint ventures, probiotics promotion activities and research that they have undertaken based on the agreement.

“Danone and Yakult will intensify their joint efforts to promote probiotics through the jointly created Global Probiotics Council.

The parties also intend to expand the Ishoku Dogen programme which aims at deepening the understanding of the link between diet and health.

“From a commercial perspective, the partners will study the feasibility of new collaboration projects such as the distribution of Yakult’s products by Danone in European markets where the brand is not currently engaged in substantial business, with Spain as an initial test market,” said Danone in a statement.

Danone announced the transaction even after activist fund Corvex Management built a stake in the French maker of Activia yogurt and Evian water as it struggles to boost revenue.