Dairy group Danone is going to dispose of its remaining participation in the Japanese probiotics producer Yakult. The multinational had been a shareholder since 2004 but failed to take over the company.
According to the dairy multinational, the sale is motivated by financial discipline: the company wants to use its capital elsewhere and strengthen its balance sheet, reports the press release. However, both companies will continue to work together in the long term to promote probiotics. Existing commercial collaborations, such as joint ventures in India and Vietnam, will also be maintained.
The news is not entirely unexpected. Two years ago Danone had already reduced its stake in Yakult from 21.29% to 6.61%. The dairy company had not been able to take over the entire Japanese producer and therefore saw little point in a large shareholding. Moreover, Danone has a competitive product on the market with Actimel.
Both fermented drinks contain lactic acid bacteria which would contribute to a healthy intestinal flora and better resistance, a health claim which the European Food Safety Committee, EFSA, no longer allows on the packaging. Yakult was developed by scientist Dr Minoru Shirota and was launched on the Japanese market as early as 1935. In the meantime, it is available virtually worldwide. Actimel was developed in Belgium and came on the market in 1994. Recently Danone launched a vegetable version of the drink.