Danone: Talks to sell unit to Nestle ‘advanced’

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Danone is in advanced talks to sell its medical-nutrition business to Nestlé after health-care group Fresenius dropped out of the process, according to people familiar with the matter. While a sale to Nestlé was the most likely outcome, the transaction faced antitrust hurdles in some western European markets, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were private. Talks with Nestlé could still fall apart and Paris-based Danone could decide against a sale, the people said. There were still other bidders interested in the medical-nutrition business, one of the people said. Danone, the biggest yoghurt maker, could fetch about e3 billion (R43bn) from the sale, the people said. “For Nestlé, acquiring Danone’s medical-nutrition business would tick the right strategic boxes. Whether it would be a good deal or not would come down to price,” RBC Europe analyst James Edwardes Jones said, adding that he did not see a compelling reason for Danone to sell it. Fresenius, which was considered one of the strongest contenders for the medical-nutrition unit, was no longer interested, the people said. The German firm’s chief executive, Ulf Mark Schneider, said last week that it was not working on deals bigger than e1bn at present. Danone, Nestlé and Fresenius representatives declined to comment. – Bloomberg

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