China’s Bright Food Has Highest Bid for Yoplait

Chinese company Bright Food presented the highest bid for a 50% stake in Yogurt maker Yoplait, which is currently owned by private equity firm PAI Partners, Reuters reported, citing a report in the French newspaper Le Figaro. Bright Food valued the French yogurt company at roughly $2.3 billion. Yoplait is half-owned by PAI Partners and French farming cooperative Sodiaal. PAI hired banks in September to help it exit the investment, Reuters said.

(Reuters) – Chinese company Bright Food has presented the highest bid for a 50 percent stake in Yoplait, valuing the French yogurt company around 1.7 billion euros (US$2.3 billion), French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

In an advance edition of its Wednesday paper, Le Figaro cited unnamed sources saying that the Shanghai conglomerate had submitted the strongest of nine bids.

Unlisted Yoplait, the world’s second-biggest yogurt company after Danone , is half owned by PAI Partners and farming cooperative Sodiaal. PAI hired banks in September to find buyers for its stake.

On Sunday, a source told Reuters that Yoplait’s board would meet on Friday to evaluate the offers, and would draw up a short list of candidates by the end of February.

French weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche had reported that PAI Partners had received nine bids for its stake, including offers from U.S. food company General Mills and Switzerland’s Nestle .

Other bidders reportedly include Mexico’s Grupo Lala, Bright Food Group, French cheese maker Bel and French dairy group Lactalis, as well as private equity firm’s Axa Private Equity , Bain Capital and Lion Capital.

Le Figaro reported that a French buyer, such as Lactalis, Bel or Axa Private Equity, would be the preferred buyer for Yoplait even if their offers were lower. ($1=.7327 Euro) (Reporting by Nick Vinocur)