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Nestlé seeks larger share of ice-cream market

Pillsbury boss, Paul Walsh (left), and Joe Weller, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA, announcing their joint venture last year


The Swiss food group, Nestlé, is in talks to buy a 50 per cent stake in an ice-cream joint venture, which would give it the rights to sell Haagen-Dazs ice cream in North America.

Nestlé confirmed that it was seeking to buy the stake in Ice Cream Partners, a joint venture set up with the United States firm, Pillsbury, last year.

If the bid is successful, it is expected to cost the Swiss firm about $650 million (SFr1.1 billion).

Under the deal, Nestlé would acquire Pillsbury's 50 per cent share, giving it complete ownership of Ice Cream Partners.

Pillsbury is to be acquired by General Mills in January in a deal worth more than $10 billion. The purchase gives Nestlé an option to buy Pillsbury's share for its market value, plus a premium if $150 million.

"We have decided to exercise the option and we are now in discussions on the conditions," said Nestlé spokesman, Marcel Rubin. He declined to comment on the purchase price.

Nestlé is currently the world's second biggest producer of ice cream, with a global market share of 10 per cent, compared to 16 per cent held by its rival, Unilever.

Analysts say Nestlé has secured its market position largely through acquisitions, and is hoping to buy its way to dominance in the ice cream business.

swissinfo with agencies

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