World Danone: 5 things you might not know

16:40  01 march  2021
16:40  01 march  2021 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Danone : 5 choses que vous ne saviez peut-être pas © Stanislav Krasilnikov \ TASS via Getty Images Danone: 5 things you might not know Management, "economic patriotism", "company with missions". .. Targeted by activist investors, Danone presents a somewhat atypical profile among our multinationals. Overview.

Mainly known to the general public for its yogurts and other dairy products, Danone is a diversified giant. Dairy products are certainly the common thread in the group's centuries-old history, which began with a yogurt designed in Barcelona in 1919, and remain its main activity. In 2020, its division bringing together dairy and plant-based products generated a turnover of 12.8 billion euros, or more than half of the company's total revenues (23.6 billion). But over time, Danone ended up building a much larger portfolio, also made up of waters and specialized nutrition products (especially infant milks). Today, he owns brands such as Evian, Volvic, Activia or Aptamil. The group has long been number one in beer in France with Kronenbourg, and present in pasta, champagne and candies. Divested activities to refocus on the three current poles (water, specialized nutrition, dairy and plant products).

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If Danone does not detail its results by region, the Europe / North America zone achieved a turnover of 13.4 billion euros last year, against 10.2 billion for "the rest of the world" . The group is also firmly established in China. In 2018, this country represented its first market for its specialized nutrition division, ahead of the United Kingdom and France, due to the very strong demand for infant milk. Danone is also investing in it: last summer, it announced its intention to spend 100 million euros there for the acquisition of an infant milk production site and the creation of a research center. As part of a strategic review of his portfolio, he announced on Sunday the sale of his stake of nearly 10% in the local dairy giant Mengniu , while insisting that this transaction "does not mean absolutely not a withdrawal from China ".

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At the head of the group, Emmanuel Faber in 2017 added the chairman's hat to that of chief executive officer he had worn since 2014. If Mr. Faber is today contested by some shareholders who are calling for a separation of his functions, the management of Danone has shown great stability in recent decades, embodied by the Riboud family, which has shaped the current group. Emmanuel Faber thus succeeded Franck Riboud, who himself took over in 1996 from his father, Antoine. The latter had merged its BSN group, which is also present in the glass industry, with Gervais-Danone in the early 1970s. At the end of 2019, the group was mainly held by institutional investors (funds, insurers, etc.), to the tune of 77 %, these being mainly American (43%) and French (19%).

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trading session When rumors swelled in the summer of 2005 of PepsiCo's interest in Danone, an outcry immediately took place in France to protect this national flagship in the name of " economic patriotism ". Even if the American giant ultimately never took action, the government voted a few months later for an amendment to limit hostile takeover attempts. Since then, several laws have come to strengthen the protection of French companies considered "strategic" against foreign investments. For example, the government recently opposed a takeover of Carrefour by the Canadian group Couche-Tard.

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Danone turned last year into a “company with a mission”, with an almost unanimous vote (99.42%) of its shareholders. This status, introduced by the Pacte law in 2019, requires it to go beyond the search for profitability by pursuing "social, societal and environmental objectives". It is a question of adopting a "governance which will engrave in stone the DNA of Danone and its mission to bring health through food to the greatest number", explained Mr. Faber at the time. An independent mission committee, responsible for evaluating the implementation of the commitments made, was thus set up, chaired by the former Director General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy.

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