NEW YORK (AP) — General Mills said Friday that it has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy a majority stake in French yogurt company Yoplait.

The binding offer with PAI Partner and Sodiaal, the owners of Yoplait S.A.S., would beat out rivals bidding for the company.

General Mills’ offer includes a 50 percent interest and a controlling role in the company, the food company said. It said that discussions are in progress, and that it is also initiating talks with French works’ councils.

A statement from General Mills didn’t include possible terms. The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the situation, reported that the deal would value Yoplait at about $2.2 billion.

Under the proposed transaction, General Mills will team up with Sodiaal in expanding the Yoplait brand and businesses in France, Europe and around the world.

General Mills, based in Minneapolis, has licensed the Yoplait brand since 1977, and is Yoplait’s largest licensee.

The seven bidders for the stake in Yoplait included China’s Bright Foods, Switzerland’s Nestle SA, which has a joint venture in yogurt, Mexico’s Grupo Lala Axa Private Equity and French dairy company Groupe Lactalis.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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