Danone Sells Yakult Shares at Discount, Raising $1.66 Billion

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(Bloomberg) -- Danone, the world’s largest yogurt maker, sold about two-thirds of its stake in Japan’s Yakult for 175 billion yen ($1.66 billion) at a discount of 11 percent to Tuesday’s close.

The French company sold 24.6 million shares of Yakult Honsha Co. in a secondary sale, reducing its holding to 6.6 percent from 21.3 percent, Danone said in a statement late Tuesday. The sale price was about 7,114 yen per share, according to Bloomberg calculations.

The move comes after activist fund Corvex Management built a stake in the French maker of Activia yogurt and Evian water as it struggles to boost revenue. Yakult shares have gained less than 1 percent since Danone first announced plans to shed the stake on Feb. 14.

Danone plans to use the proceeds to reduce its debt ratio and invest to accelerate organic growth. It remains Yakult’s biggest shareholder and will nominate two directors for approval at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, the company said.

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