Danone to buy Wockhardt's nutrition business for Rs1,576 crore

Worlhardt chairma, Habil KhorakiwalaFrench dairy major Groupe Danone (BN) SA is buying the nutrition business of pharmaceutical major Wockhardt, for Rs1,576 crore ($356 million/€250 million) – a move designed to enter the Indian baby and medical nutrition market.

Under the deal, Danone, the maker of Bledina baby foods, will get Wockhardt's Dexolac, Farex, Nusobee and Protinex brands as well as the related industrial operations from its subsidiary Carol Info Service located in Punjab.

Farex and Protinex brands are of Dumex India, which Wockhardt had acquired from Royal Numico NV of the Netherlands in 2006.

In 2009, Wockhardt had agreed to sell its nutrition business to global healthcare major Abbott Laboratories, (See: Wockhardt sells its nutrition businesses to Abbott for $130 million) - but the Rs625-crore deal had to be aborted after a group of investors holding 40-per cent of Wockhardt's foreign currency convertible bonds opposed the sale at the high court.

With the Bombay High Court refusing to grant an injunction to stall the sale, Wockhardt once again  looked for suitors in January 2011and pharmaceutical majors like Pfizer, Abbott and Danone entered into negations with Wockhardt.

Although the Mumbai-based company was believed to have received offers ranging from Rs1,365 to Rs1,455 crore, Wockhardt chairman Habil Khorakiwala was rumoured to be seeking around Rs1,500 crore.