DealZone

Deals wrap: Yoplait to split a yogurt with General Mills

General Mills cereals are displayed on a kitchen counter in Golden, Colorado December 17, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

After months of tense negotiations that involved members of the French government, management disputes and influence from an agricultural lobby General Mills is set to pay $1.12 billion for private equity fund PAI Partners half of the Yoplait yogurt brand.

The General Mills bid was attractive for several reasons. It has a long standing relationship with Yoplait, holding the license for the companies yogurt in the United States since 1977. General Mills was also able to pay for the transaction off its balance sheet. Sodiaal, which controls the other half of Yoplait, was also attracted to the idea that General Mills could use its international reach to boost sales in emerging markets, particularly India and China.

For its part General Mills protects its U.S. distribution rights and eliminates the risk of a competitor edging in on that business. The Deal Journal has some early market reaction.

News that Groupon could be valued as high as $25 billion is being met with skepticism.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the site was unlikely to command such a lofty valuation so shortly after it turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google in December.

Deals wrap: Genzyme bid hinges on new drug

Genzyme (GENZ.O), resisting a hostile bid from Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA), is open to a deal that links its value to the success of key drug Campath, the U.S. biotech’s chief executive was quoted as saying. But it was not up to Genzyme to suggest that to the French drugmaker, which has launched a $18.5 billion takeover offer for Genzyme, Chief Executive Henri Termeer was quoted as saying in French newspaper Le Figaro.

“This is one of the alternatives that could be explored. We are thinking about it with regard to the Campath molecule. This could be used by Sanofi or by other companies we talk to,” Termeer told the newspaper in an interview.

Global food companies are set to square up against emerging market buyers and private equity players to buy half of Yoplait, the world’s second-largest yogurt maker after French peer Danone (DANO.PA). General Mills (GIS.N), Nestle (NESN.VX) and Lactalis, Europe’s largest dairy group, all have sound strategic reasons to pursue the maker of Petits Filous yogurts and Yop drinking yogurt, valued at 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) by its CEO Lucien Fa in a Reuters interview.