PAI Partners, which kicked off a sale earlier this month for its 50% stake in yogurt-maker Yoplait, will shortlist final bidders in February, according to the French daily La Tribune. The French buyout shop will reportedly make a final decision on the buyer in March.
Bids are likely to come in during the second half of January. Rumored suitors have ranged widely from France’s strategic investment fund FSI, to private equity firms, to food giants Nestle, PepsiCo. and General Mills, the owner of Yoplait’s U.S. franchise.
One potential bidder, European dairy conglomerate Lactalis, already attempted a buyout of Yoplait. Lactalis made a 1.4 billion euro offer in November. Lactais’ unsolicited bid was shot down by PAI and French farming cooperative Sodiaal, which owns the other 50% stake in Yoplait.
The two firms said at the time that the offer was both too low, and unacceptable because it was contingent upon Lactalis taking a majority stake. Sodiaal plans to retain its Yoplait stake as PAI Partners exits. Lactalis’ bid did not “reflect either the intrinsic and strategic value of Yoplait or its growth prospects,” the shareholders said in a joint release.
Yoplait is the world’s second-largest yogurt maker. PAI acquired its stake in the Boulogne Billancourt, France-based company in 2002. Yoplait, formed in 1965, sells its products in roughly 70 countries.