Danone to sell US subsidiary Stonyfield to close acquisition of WhiteWave

French food and drink conglomerate Groupe Danone today said that it had decided to sell its US subsidiary Stonyfield to facilitate the rapid closing of its acquisition of US organic food producer WhiteWave foods.

''Danone has reached a major step towards the closing of the WhiteWave acquisition as it has reached an agreement in principle with the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (''DOJ''),'' Danone said in a statement.

As part of the agreement Danone has decided to sell one of its US dairy subsidiaries, Stonyfield, after the closing of the WhiteWave acquisition.

''While Stonyfield has been a valued part of Danone's portfolio and remains a highly attractive asset, its divestiture does not impact the strategic rationale or financial benefits of the WhiteWave acquisition,'' the statement added.

Founded by Samuel Kaymen in 1983, Stonyfield, is an organic yogurt maker. The New Hampshire-based company makes the number-one selling brand of organic yogurt and the number-three overall yogurt brand in the US.

It owns brands including YoBaby, YoToddler, YoKids and Oikos, and licenses its brand name to Organic Valley for its fluid milk.

In 2001, Danone purchased an initial 40 per cent in Stonyfield and later increased its stake to 85 per cent.

Last year, Danone struck a deal to buy US organic foods producer WhiteWave Foods Co for $10.4 billion, in a bid to double the size of its business in the US. (See: Danone to buy US organic foods producer WhiteWave Foods Co for $10.4 bn)

The deal is Danone's largest since it acquired Dutch baby foods group Numico in 2007 for $16.8 billion.

WhiteWave Foods, earlier a subsidiary of Dean Foods till it was spun off in an IPO in 2012, is a packaged food and beverage company that manufactures and sells branded plant-based foods and beverages, coffee creamers and beverages, premium dairy products and organic produce throughout North America, Europe and through a joint venture in China.

Its brands include Silk, So Delicious, Alpro, Vega, Horizon, Wallaby Organic, Earthbound Farm and International Delight.

The Denver, Colorado-based company employs around 3,000 people and generates $3.9 billion in annual revenues.

Around 86 per cent of its annual revenues come from North America, while 14 per cent from Europe.

Post closing, Danone's North America footprint would increase from 12 to 22 per cent of its total portfolio.