VENTURES AFRICA – French food group Danone is set to expand its presence in North Africa by taking over a top Morocco dairy at a sum of 550 million Euros ($683 million) despite weakening sales in southern Europe.
In a statement released by the seller, National Investment Co (SNI), the French group will pay a 34 percent premium above Centrale Laitiere’s stock price to raise the 29.2 percent it has been holding since 2001 to 67 percent.
The deal that is expected to be finalized before the end of this year and it has been described by Danone as a confirmation of the strategic appeal of markets in North Africa for the group.
Centrale Laitiere is Morocco’s major dairy product company. It controls about 60 percent of the market and posts annual sales of 600 million Euros ($745 million). Centrale Laitiere is also operating Morocco’s largest distribution platform, with 30 storage hubs serving 70,000 retail outlets.
Apart from producing fresh dairy products, Danone is also seeking to invest in North Africa’s baby food and medical nutrition products.