Danone SA, the French dairy giant whose yogurt brands are a common sight on supermarket shelves around the world, announced Thursday it is acquiring WhiteWave Foods Co., the Denver, Colorado, producer of organic foods and plant-based milks. The all-cash deal values the U.S. company at $56.25 per share, for a total enterprise value of about $12.5 billion.
The deal “doubles the size of Danone's U.S. business” and will create “synergies of #300 million by 2020,” the French company said in a statement. The price offered for shares of WhiteWave Foods is a 24 percent premium to the company's 30-day average closing price.
Emmanuel Faber, Danone CEO, said his company “found in WhiteWave the perfect alliance as we both believe in a healthier future and are conscious of our power to lead society forward.”
A combination of external factors, notable economic headwinds, have curbed Danone’s growth in recent years, notably in emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia, as well as in Europe. Acquiring WhiteWave Foods, a Denver, Colorado, organic food producer, would provide the Paris-based company an immediate boost in the lucrative U.S. market that is increasingly turning to healthier food options.
The deal “further diversifies Danone’s portfolio and broadens its presence in North America. The transaction will create a leading U.S. refrigerated dairy player, as well as one of the top 15 largest U.S. Food and Beverage manufacturers. Following the closing of the transaction, Danone’s North America footprint would increase from 12 to 22 percent of Danone’ total portfolio,” the statement said.
The French company’s revenue in 2015 came in at 22.41 billion euros ($24.86 billion), an increase of 6 percent from the year before. It also posted net income of 1.28 billion euros for the year, up 14.2 percent from 2014. More than half of Danone’s sales came from emerging markets.
Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Duncan Fox wrote a report last month that said, “Danone SA has struggled to deliver consistent sales and margin growth as a result of lower commodity prices, particularly within the dairy business.”
WhiteWave Foods grew its revenue by 12.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, with total sales of $3.87 billion last year, the bulk of which came from the U.S., while about 15 percent came from Europe. Its net income jumped 21.4 percent to $170 million in 2015.
Danone’s brands include Activia and Oikos yogurts and Evian water, and the company competes with Nestle and Unilever around the world. WhiteWave Foods, whose products include yogurts, soy milk and other nut-based beverages, is known for its Horizon Organic and Silk brands.
The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both the companies, needs approval from WhiteWave Foods' shareholders and from regulators and is expected to close by the end of 2016.
Shares of Danone closed 0.81 percent lower on the Euronext Paris exchange on Wednesday, while WhiteWave saw its shares close with a 0.94 percent rise on the New York Stock Exchange. WhiteWave has a market cap of $8.34 billion.