Yakult Shares Fall as Danone Excludes Making Hostile Bid

Yakult Honsha Co. fell the most in almost two years after the Nikkei newspaper reported that the Japanese milk-drink maker’s biggest shareholder, Danone SA, won’t attempt a hostile takeover to boost its stake.

Yakult dropped 8.7 percent to 3,520 yen at the close in Tokyo, the biggest decline since March 2011. Danone is working to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, the newspaper reported, citing Bertrand Austruy, the Paris-based company’s chief legal counsel and Yakult outside director. “Danone confirms there will be no hostile bid for Yakult,” Agnes Berthet-d’Anthonay, a spokeswoman, said today by phone.

The company has a 20 percent stake in Yakult. In April, the Nikkei reported that Danone was seeking to increase that holding to 28 percent and would make a tender offer to raise its investment to 35 percent if the talks should fail.

Yakult’s probiotic and fermented milk drinks are similar to offerings from Danone, the world’s largest yogurt maker. The Japanese company’s deputy president, Yoshihiro Kawabata, said in May that it would oppose Danone’s offer to raise the stake.

“We can’t comment on the contents, but we are continuing the talks with Danone so we can reach the best conclusion,” Hisataka Omori, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Yakult, said by phone today. “Both parties have agreed to take time to continue the talks.”

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