March 21, 2011

$1.1 billion deal meets seller’s price while providing structural guarantees to remaining co-owner.

Willkie represented private equity firm PAI partners in the sale of its 50 percent stake in Yoplait, the second largest yogurt maker in the world, to U.S.-based food company General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies. The transaction, announced on March 18, is valued at $1.1 billion and subject to the approval of all competent authorities.  In contemplating the sale, PAI sought to structure the transaction so that the disposal of its Yoplait stake would be beneficial to all parties involved, particularly the management and employees of Yoplait and Sodiaal, Yoplait’s joint owner.   Under the terms of the deal, General Mills will have 50/50 ownership with Sodiaal of the Yoplait brand worldwide and 51 percent ownership of the Yoplait operating company.  Both PAI and Sodiaal say this structure ensures that Sodiaal remains a key shareholder of Yoplait and consolidates the group’s French roots.

The deal, led by partners Daniel Payan and Cédric Hajage, included partners Jacques-Philippe Gunther and Marie-Hélène Raffin; special European counsel Jeffrey Fouts and Paul Lombard; and associates Elise Carrera and Faustine Viala.