Danone reduces Yakult stake to 7%, signs MoU to strengthen probiotic collaboration

FRANCE – French food and dairy conglomerate Danone has signed an amended Memorandum of Understanding with Japanese dairy player Yakult to strengthen their initial collaboration to promote and develop probiotics, while reducing its stake in the company to 7%.

The MoU, says Danone, will facilitate intensified activities with the probiotic beverages company for the project, where the company has also increased its capital allocation.

According to Danone, the companies were committing to a long-term relationship that started way back in 2004 with a shared vision to advocate for probiotics as vital organisms for gut health and good digestive system.

Danone and Yakult established the Global Probiotics Council in 2004 through a collaborative agreement to promote the role of probiotics in world health.

Their joint efforts will be initiated through the Global Probiotics Council program in addition to expanding Ishoku Dogen program which aims at deepening the understanding of the link between diet and health.

The MoU also seeks to locate new collaboration projects that involve Danone marketing some of Yakult brands in Europe where the company has not taken root, with Spain being the first test market.

Danone also announced that it was reducing part of its 21.29% stake in Yakult to approximately 7% shareholding.

Danone first acquired an interest in Yakult in 2000.

The divestment, subject to market conditions leaves Danone as Yakult’s largest shareholder and will continue to sit on Yakult’s Board of Directors.

Yakult has also announced a JPY 36 billion share (US$334 million) buyback program in which Danone will participate.

Despite of the transactions, the two companies will maintain amicable relationship that will open way for future mutually-beneficial collaboration, says Danone.

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 says it is currently focusing on investments in essential dairy and plant-based products, early life nutrition, waters and medical nutrition.

Its recent investment includes a stake in Harmless Harvest a leader in U.S. refrigerated premium coconut water and a Fair for Life certified organic producer.

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