Nestlé eyes cool deal

Nestlé wants a bigger scoop of the ice cream business Keystone Archive

Swiss firm Nestlé is looking at buying the luxury ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs. The move would make the multinational the number three in the business in the United States.

This content was published on October 28, 2001 minutes

Nestlé intends to exercise an option to buy the company from General Mills, according to Britain's Sunday Telegraph. The American company is currently acquiring Pillsbury, the ice cream manufacturer's owner, from British food and beverage giant Diageo for $11.2 billion (SFr18.5 billion).

The Vevey-based firm entered an agreement with Pillsbury in 1999 to form a fifty-fifty joint venture combining their ice cream brands in the United States. The deal gave Nestlé the right to buy out its partner if its ownership changed.

The purchase of Häagen-Dazs is likely to cost Nestlé about $600 million according to analysts. The company is also thought to want take over the international rights to the brand from General Mills, adding at least another $400 million to the final bill.

Häagen-Dazs has worldwide sales worth $1 billion annually. Analysts say it is the clear leader in the "super premium" ice cream market.

The brand, created in 1961, achieved international notoriety in the Seventies when it began franchising ice cream shops outside of the United States. There are currently 650 locations in 55 countries, including one in Zurich, as well as supermarket sales.

Nestlé, already the second biggest seller of ice cream worldwide with 10 per cent of the market, will probably use the purchase to close the gap on Unilever according to analysts. The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate owns 16 per cent of the world market.

swissinfo with agencies

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