Chobani seeks to sell stake at $2.5 billion valuation: sources
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[March 11, 2014]
By Olivia Oran
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Chobani, the Greek
yogurt maker that has grown into a U.S. sensation, is looking to
sell a minority stake in a deal that could value the company at
around $2.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
The company is working with Bank of America Corp <BAC.N> as it
considers selling roughly 20 percent of itself, and is speaking to
consumer companies and private equity firms to gauge their interest,
the people said on Monday.
Chobani, based in New Berlin, New York, previously held discussions
with banks about pursuing an initial public offering, but switched
gears in the face of mounting competition from other Greek yogurt
companies, the people said.
The people declined to be named because the matter is not public.
Representatives for Chobani did not immediately respond to requests
for comment, while Bank of America declined to comment.
Founded in 2005 by Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani started
operating from a former Kraft Food yogurt plant in South Edmeston,
New York, and grew into one of the top-selling Greek yogurt brands
in the United States.
The company suffered a blow in September after it was forced to
recall moldy cups of Greek yogurt after customers complained that
the product tasted runny and fizzy, and some reported illnesses.
And in December, Whole Foods Market Inc <WFM.O> said that it would
no longer sell Chobani yogurts starting early this year.
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Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker, creamier and often higher in
protein than other types of yogurt, now makes up more than 40
percent of the U.S. yogurt market, which is worth $7.4 billion
according to research firm Mintel.
Although Greek yogurt reignited the entire yogurt category,
competition remains fierce between Chobani and brands such as Danone
SA's <DANO.PA> Oikos and General Mills' <GIS.N> Yoplait.
(Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York;
additional reporting by Martinne Geller in London; editing by Soyoung Kim and Lisa Shumaker)
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