Danone’s new CEO says he has no plans to sell any of his three businesses

Company logos are seen on products on display ahead of French food group Danone’s 2019 annual results presentation in Paris, France, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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PARIS, April 26 (Reuters) – The new chief executive of Danone (DANO.PA) said on Tuesday that the French food group was not considering selling any of its three businesses, after its shares rose last week following a report of merger interest from the dairy group Lactalis.

CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique said last month there was “nothing wrong” with Danone’s business – dairy and plant-based products, infant formula and bottled water – a view which he reiterated at Tuesday’s annual meeting of shareholders. Read more

“Our portfolio of categories is growing because it is in line with consumer expectations. We have no intention of parting with it, regardless of the rumours,” Saint-Affrique said.

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An April 20 report in the business newspaper La Lettre A said that the unlisted French dairy company Lactalis had been studying a possible full or partial takeover of Danone for months.

Saint-Affrique said the key to driving sales growth is improving execution, investing in compelling brands and innovations, and getting rid of underperforming assets.

Saint-Affrique, at the helm since September, replaced former Danone boss Emmanuel Faber, who was abruptly ousted as chairman and CEO in March 2021 following clashes with some board members. administration on strategy and activist fundraising appeals for him to step down.

At Tuesday’s general meeting, Franck Riboud, former chairman and CEO of the group and son of Danone founder Antoine Riboud, officially stepped down as a director after 30 years.

This is part of a governance overhaul unveiled in July 2021 which will see most of the group’s veterans gradually leave, paving the way for new CEO Saint-Affrique.

Riboud, however, remains honorary president.

The proposal by a group of shareholders representing 0.8% of Danone’s capital – and including Phitrust, Mirova, CAVP, ERAFP, Ircantec and OFI Asset Management – to limit the role of Honorary Chairman does not did not meet the required two-thirds majority at the meeting.

In particular, he asked that the honorary president could only be invited “on an exceptional and motivated basis” to attend all or part of the board meetings, and therefore not to systematically attend all the board meetings.

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Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Tassilo Hummel, Alexander Smith and Keith Weir

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