Danone to Buy Wockhardt’s India Nutrition Unit for $355 Million

Danone, the world’s biggest yogurt maker, agreed to buy Wockhardt Ltd.’s nutrition business in India for 250 million euros ($355 million) to add a lineup of baby and medical foods in the country.

The purchase includes the Dexolac, Farex and Protinex brands in the country, Paris-based Danone said in a statement today. Danone will also acquire the unit’s “related industrial operations” from Carol Info Service, the company said.

The maker of Bledina baby foods is seeking to expand in fast-growing emerging markets such as China and India as well as in the U.S., and took a 58 percent stake in Russia’s OAO Unimilk last year, becoming the biggest dairy company in that country. Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Andre Terisse said in February that Danone may broaden its medical nutrition and water units.

“The strong brand awareness of Wockhardt’s Dexolac, Farex and Nusobee baby nutrition products and their credibility with health-care professionals will accelerate Danone’s entry into the country’s baby-nutrition market,” Danone said. The Protinex supplement brand “will give Danone a strong foundation for developing its medical nutrition business,” the company said.

Wockhardt, a Mumbai-based maker of drugs to treat diabetes, said in an e-mail that it’s “taking fundamentally strong and positive steps with a firm focus on its core human pharmaceutical business.”

Danone reported first half net income on July 28 that missed analysts’ estimates as higher costs for financing and soaring prices for goods including milk and plastic weighed on profit. It maintained a forecast for a probable 0.2 percentage point widening of operating margin this year and for comparative sales to rise 6 percent to 8 percent.

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