China’s Bright Food optimistic about Yoplait bid -report

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Bright Food Group is optimistic about its bid to buy a 50 percent stake in French yoghurt maker Yoplait, a local newspaper reported on Friday quoting a company executive.

Competition was “quite fierce” but the company was “serious” about the deal as it stepped up efforts to turn itself into a global food group through mergers and acquisitions in the coming five years, the China Daily quoted Bright Food Deputy General Manager Ge Junjie as saying.

“Capital for bidding is not a problem for us, but we believe the deal is very important for the company,” he told the paper.

A Bright Food spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Yoplait said last month that it had received nine preliminary offers for the 50 percent stake in the world’s second-largest yoghurt maker being sold buy private equity group PAI Partners.

Chinese group Bright Foods made a preliminary offer of 1.8-1.9 billion euros, a source close to the deal has said.

French media have reported other bidders included Mexican group Lala, French cheesemaker Fromageries Bel SA (FROB.PA), French dairy group Lactalis, Swiss food producer Nestle SA and U.S. company General Mills Inc.

General Mills and Nestle are among leading candidates in the competition, Bloomberg reported last month, citing people familiar with the process.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada and Samuel Shen; Editing by Chris Lewis)