Danone crafts deal to offload Russian arm – FT
Photo: EPA

The French group Danone has agreed to sell its Russian business, writes the Financial Times with reference to its own sources. If the agreement is approved by the Russian authorities, the new owner of the assets de jure will be the dairy company Vamin Tatarstan, which belongs to 29-year-old Minitmer Mingazov.

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The company allegedly agreed to pay 17.7 billion rubles ($191.88 million), of which 40% will go to service the debt of the Danone unit.

In August 2023, Danone enterprises, together with the assets of the Carlsberg brewing group, came under external management. Yakub Zakriev, the 33-year-old nephew of the  Moscow-appointed Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, gained actual control over them. Mingazov, with whom Danone negotiates, joined the board of directors at the same time.

After the seizure, the Russian division of Danone changed its name to Life & Nutrition.

While Carlsberg directly accused Russia of theft, Danone employed a different tactic. Managers appointed by Danone continued overseeing factory operations, maintaining headquarters contact. To ostensibly ensure continuity in Russia, Danone purportedly provided support to Life & Nutrition.

In October 2022, Danone announced its intention to wind down its dairy products business in Russia. The media reported on many applicants for the purchase of the business, including large producers of Russian food products, including Rusagro, Cherkizovo Group, Chernogolovka, EkoNiva, Rumelko, Tkachev Agrokompleks and AFK Sistema.

In February 2023, the French group offered potential investors control over part of the assets in Russia with the condition of buyback. Danone wanted to keep a stake and a seat on the Russian company's board of directors after the deal.

Danone has been operating in Russia for 30 years and is represented by the brands "Prostokvashino", "Activia" , Actimel, "Rastishka", "Danissimo", Danone, "Bio Balance", "Actual", "Smeshariki", Alpro, Bebelac, "Tema" , Nutrilon, "Malyutka" and Evian.