French yoghurt manufacturer Danone has announced that it has raised its stake in Japanese probiotics maker Yakult to 19 per cent.
The investment in Yakult Honsha Ltd was carried out through Danone Asia Pte, the group's Asia-Pacific holding company based in Singapore. Financial details of the move were not revealed.
In a statement Danone said the deal should be viewed as a long-term investment, reflecting its confidence in the development and management of the leading Asian probiotics firm. Yakult had a turnover of around Y230 billion (€1.79bn) during 2002 and is now present in 18 countries.
The Yakult product, developed in 1935, is a fermented milk drink containing 6.5 billion active Lactobacillus casei Shirota bacteria. This strain of lactic acid bacteria, strong enough to survive gastric juice and to reach the intestines alive, is believed to help maintain a healthy balance of the intestinal flora, important for good digestion. Yakult is the second most popular functional food brand in the UK after Flora pro.activ, according to Mintel research.
Like Danone, which claims to be world leader in fresh dairy products, as well as bottled water and biscuits, Yakult is also a major player in dairy products in Asia-Pacific. Danone has a turnover of €13.6 billion annually.