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Danone, WhiteWave to Merge

Danone and The WhiteWave Foods Co. have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Danone will acquire WhiteWave for $56.25 per share in an all-cash transaction, for a total enterprise value of about $12.5 billion. The boards of directors of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to the approval of WhiteWave's shareholders, regulatory approvals and customary conditions.

“[W]e found in WhiteWave the perfect alliance, as we both believe in a healthier future and are conscious of our power to lead society forward,” said Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Paris-based Danone. “This unique combination positions us better to address tomorrow’s consumer trends and represents a great opportunity to step change the ambition of our plan for an Alimentation revolution and to accelerate our path towards strong sustainable and profitable growth by 2020. It will allow us to enhance Danone’s growth profile and reinforce our resilience through a broader platform in North America. We are convinced that combining with WhiteWave will create significant value for all of our stakeholders.”

Added Danone Chairman Franck Riboud: “We believe WhiteWave’s size, positioning and geographical footprint fit perfectly with Danone’s strategy and that it is the right transaction at the right time. The Danone board will propose that shareholders approve the appointment of Gregg Engles, WhiteWave chairman and chief executive officer, as a member of our board upon completing the transaction as we pursue our ambitious vision together.”

 “Today’s announcement is an exciting next chapter for WhiteWave, bringing together two leading companies with a shared mission of changing the way the world eats for the better,” noted Engles. “We believe this is a compelling transaction that delivers significant cash value to our shareholders. Danone is a unique company with distinctive capabilities that will enable WhiteWave to reach its next phase of growth. Danone is a great cultural fit for our organization, and I am excited for our employees to benefit from the opportunities presented by joining Danone, a leading global food company and the ideal strategic partner to support our future.”

Following the transaction, Danone and WhiteWave expect to combine their U.S. activities into a public benefit corporation, a commitment in line with Danone’s long-term goal of building economic and social value. The companies will also form a team to prepare for and oversee the transition of the businesses. The acquisition is expected to be fully financed with debt for which Danone has received commitments from its banks.

Present in more than 130 markets, Danone has an extensive brand portfolio, including such well-known product lines as Dannon, Activia, Evian and Volvic.

Denver-based WhiteWave’s brands include Silk, So Delicious and Vega plant-based foods and beverages; International Delight and Land O Lakes coffee creamers and beverages; Horizon Organic and Wallaby Organic premium dairy products, and Earthbound Farm organic salads, fruits and vegetables.

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