French food group Danone today agreed to acquire a majority controlling stake in Morocco's largest dairy firm Centrale Laitiere for €550 million ($685 million) in order to expand its presence in the North African market.
Danone, which held a 29.2-per cent stake in Centrale Laitière since 2001, will raise it to 67 per cent by buying part of the 63.4 per cent stake held by Moroccan Investment fund Société Nationale d'Investissement.
Centrale Laitière is market leader in milk, fresh dairy products and cheese, and holds nearly 60 per cent of the Moroccan dairy market.
The Casablanca Stock Exchange-listed company has annual sales of €600 million.
It also operates Morocco's largest distribution centres, with 30 storage hubs serving 70,000 retail outlets.
The deal will make Morocco one of Danone's top 10 markets in terms of sales.