(Reuters) - French yoghurt maker Yoplait has been in the spotlight since private equity fund PAI Partners said it was mulling the sale of its 50 percent stake in the company.
Following are key facts about unlisted Yoplait, the world’s second-largest fresh dairy products group after French rival Danone (DANO.PA):
Set up in 1964 when more than 100,000 French farmers joined forces to better sell their products nationally, forming Sodima, which later became Sodiaal.
In 1965, the farmers dropped their own brands and created the Yoplait brand.
Yoplait launched the first fruit yoghurt on the French market in 1967 and invented the first drinking yoghurt, Yop, in 1974.
Yoplait has developed internationally through a franchise system. In 1977 it signed a franchise agreement with General Mills (GIS.N), winning 20 percent of the American market.
In 2002, PAI Partners bought 50 percent of Yoplait from Sodiaal.
Luien Fa, who had been with Danone for 21 years, came on board as chief executive in 2002. Following a restructuring, the loss-making Yoplait returned to profit.
Yoplait is the world’s second-largest brand in fresh dairy products after Danone and is world leader in fruit yoghurt.
More than 19,000 yoplait products are consumed every minute in the world, according to Yoplait’s website.
It is No. 1 in the United States and Australia, No. 2 in France, Canada, Korea and Ireland.
Top brands include Perle de Lait, Panier de Yoplait, Petits Filous, Yop and Calin.
Its product range spans 2,500 marketed worldwide.
It has 29 franchises and is present in nearly 70 countries, including exports.
Staff: 1,400 in Europe, including 1,250 in France
Global dairy market share: 7 pct vs 21 pct for Danone
French market share: 12 pct vs 32 pct for Danone
Sodiaal: 50 percent
PAI Partners: 50 percent
Fiscal year (July 1-June 30)
Consolidated sales France: 920 mln eur
Sales worldwide: 4.5 bln eur
Danone had sales of 8.6 bln eur in fresh dairy in 2009.
Compiling by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Hans Peters and David Holmes