- Danone completed its acquisition of WhiteWave on Wednesday, according to a company release. WhiteWave shareholders will receive $56.25 per share in cash.
- The two companies will combine their North American businesses and will operate under the name DanoneWave. Lorna Davis has been appointed CEO of the unit.
- "Danone and WhiteWave are a perfect match to build a global leader leveraging consumer trends and expectations for healthier and more sustainable eating and drinking choices," said Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone.
While Danone may be the global leader in yogurt, it has been struggling to improve annual sales growth after disappointing performance from its Activia brand. Since Danone first announced it would acquire the fast-growing organic foods maker WhiteWave for $12.5 billion last year, analysts predicted the purchase would give it a premier position in soy and plant-based products popular with American consumers.
The merger was allowed to proceed following Danone's recent antitrust deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, which required the company to sell its Stonyfield organic yogurt brand. Danone expects the acquisition to raise its full year like-for-like sales growth by an extra 0.5% to 1% and boost run-rate operating profits to $300 million by 2020. Improving the company's dairy division has been a top priority for executives at Danone.
The WhiteWave purchase comes as consumers embrace the plant-based and dairy-free lifestyle — one that is conscious of environmental, ethical, and health concerns. There are a significant number of consumers who can’t eat dairy. More than 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant. But many others are looking to dairy alternatives. The purchase, which is Danone’s largest in a decade, will improve the company’s product line with brands including Horizon Organic milk, Wallaby Organic yogurt and Earthbound Farm packaged salad, which WhiteWave says are the top sellers in their categories. If the trend of moving toward plants and away from dairy continues, Danone's acquisition — viewed by some analysts as expensive — could prove to be a bargain.