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Yakult Jumps After Saying Danone Talks Continue: Tokyo Mover

Yakult Honsha Co., a Japanese fermented-milk drink maker, climbed the most in two months in Tokyo trading after saying it will continue talks with Danone, which has said it wants to increase its stake.

Yakult gained 3.4 percent, the biggest surge since April 23, to 3,045 yen at the close in Tokyo. The shares had their biggest gain in 12 years on April 23, the first trading day after a Nikkei newspaper report on Danone’s interest in raising its stake.

The maker of yogurt-based drinks will continue discussions with Paris-based Danone, which owns a 20 percent stake, President Takashige Negishi told shareholders yesterday at the annual meeting in Tokyo. Danone would make a tender offer to raise its stake to 35 percent should talks to increase its stake to 28 percent fail after an agreement to limit its holding to 20 percent expired in May, according to the Nikkei report.

“There is speculation among investors that Danone might proceed to a takeover bid,” said Hiroshi Saji, an analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. “The possibility of a takeover bid is not very high because buying a Japanese representative company by unfriendly takeover may not win Japanese consumers’ support.”

Danone spokeswoman Charlotte Pasternak didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail out of office hours.

Yakult’s probiotic and fermented milk drinks are similar to offerings from Danone, the world’s largest yogurt maker.

The Japanese drinks maker has said it opposes an increase in Danone’s stake.

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