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Lactalis to Buy Carlyle-Backed Indian Dairy Producer Tirumala

Groupe Lactalis SA, the maker of President brand cheeses, agreed to buy Indian dairy producer Tirumala Milk Products Pvt. from Carlyle Group LP and its owners, in its first acquisition in the South Asian nation.

Lactalis, based in France’s Loire Valley, will take over 100 percent of the Indian company and retain the existing management, spokesman Michel Nalet said today in a phone interview in Mumbai. Nalet declined to comment on the terms of the deal. Carlyle, the world’s second-biggest buyout firm, invested $22 million in the Indian company in 2010.

The deal will help Lactalis reduce its reliance on Europe, where it gets 60 percent of its revenue. Foreign companies announced $15.6 billion of acquisitions in India last year, up from $11 billion in 2012, according to data Bloomberg compiled.

“India is an important place of opportunity for the development of the group worldwide,” Nalet said. “With the size of Tirumala today we think we have a good opportunity for the development of the Indian dairy market.”

India was the No. 3 producer of liquid, or non-powdered, cow’s milk in the world in 2013, behind the European Union and U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hyderabad-based Tirumala’s sales for the year ended March 2013 rose 21 percent to 14.24 billion rupees ($229 million), according to its website. It had net income of 700 million rupees in the year. The company has seven plants across south India, and Lactalis will help expand the company in both north and South India, said Danda Brahmanandam, Tirumala’s founder and managing director.

Tirumala is the second-largest private sector dairy producer in southern India, Brahmanandam said.

Carlyle had invested around $1.1 billion in India as of Sept. 30, according to a December statement. Carlyle will invest in strong owner driven companies in sectors including consumer, health-care, technology and engineering services, said Carlyle India Managing Director Shankar Narayanan said in a phone interview from Mumbai today.

Rothschild advised Lactalis on the transaction.

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