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updated: 7/1/2011 8:00 AM

General Mills completes $1.2B Yoplait buy

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Associated Press

NEW YORK -- General Mills Inc. said Friday its $1.2 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in yogurt company Yoplait is complete.

The cereal maker now owns 51 percent of the company, while French investment firm PAI Partners and cooperative dairy group Sodiaal has the other 49 percent.

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The acquisition of the world's second-largest yogurt maker would build on General Mills' aim to increase its health and wellness product portfolio and expand operations in France, where it already produces several products.

It also increases its stake in yogurt, which it sees as a growing food category worldwide.

General Mills, based in Minneapolis, has licensed the Yoplait brand from the French company since 1977, helping it build into a top yogurt brand in the U.S., one Yoplait's largest markets. The companies have been in arbitration about the future of that license.

Yoplait has helped offset some weakness in General Mills' core cereal business in its most recent quarter. General Mills, which makes Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker and other brands, has also been helped by sales overseas in recent periods.

Yoplait products are sold in more than 70 countries around the world.

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