FrieslandCampina Weighs Thailand’s Betagen Stake Sale

Royal FrieslandCampina NV is exploring a sale of its 50% stake in Betagen, Thailand’s iconic yogurt and yogurt drink maker, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Dutch dairy company is working with an adviser to identify a buyer for the stake in the joint venture with Thai Advanced Food, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The sale could fetch as much as $500 million, the people said.

The yogurt maker was founded by Sompong Attasakulchai in 1991 under the name of Thai Advanced Food. It was renamed as Betagen when FrieslandCampina, whose brands include “Dutch Lady” and “Friso,” invested in the company as a joint venture partner in 2007, according to Betagen’s website. The business has since expanded into neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

The Attasakulchai family has a preemptive right to acquire FrieslandCampina’s stake in Betagen before it’s offered to other prospective suitors, the people said. It’s unclear whether the founding family would exercise the option, the people said.

Deliberations for the divestment are at an early stage and FrieslandCampina could decide to keep its holdings, the people said. Representatives for Betagen and FrieslandCampina declined to comment, while Thai Advanced Food couldn’t be reached for comment.

A disposal could see FrieslandCampina joining Singapore-listed Japfa Ltd. in reducing exposure in the dairy sector in Southeast Asia. Japfa in December agreed to sell an 80% stake in PT Greenfields Indonesia to private equity firms TPG and Northstar Group for $236 million. Japfa will retain a 20% stake in the Indonesian dairy unit.

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