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Startbeitrag von ms nobody am 04.06.2004 11:34

FOCUS Nestle bid for General Mills not on agenda, but might want Diageo stake
04.06.2004 13:13:03, AFX Europe ProFeed

---- by Simon Sturdee ----

ZURICH (AFX) - Nestle SA is unlikely to be considering a bid for the whole
of General Mills Inc, contrary to an overnight newswire report, but the Swiss
food giant might be interested in Diageo PLC's 22 pct stake in the US company,
analysts said.
There a very few of General Mills' product areas seen as attractive to
Nestle in which the two do not already cooperate, and Nestle has neither the
need nor the desire to increase its US position.
Moreover, the two companies' cereals agreement precludes any hostile bid,
anti-trust regulators would have objections, and Nestle has said there are no
big deals on the horizon, they added.
"We find this (takeover) scenario hard to believe and would advise investors
to ignore it," Pictet analyst James Amoroso said. "We find no compelling
strategic argument for a Nestle purchase of General Mills."
The companies already cooperate in cereals outside the US and share global
manufacturing and marketing rights for Haagen-Dazs ice cream products. This is
sufficient for Nestle's current needs, analysts believe.



The vast majority of General Mills' business is in categories - refrigerated
dough, baking mixes, soups, canned vegetables - that Nestle will not find
attractive, Bernstein analyst Andrew Wood said.
Pictet's Amoroso said that the only part of General Mills that might be of
strategic interest would be the non-US part of Haagen-Dazs.
"However, Nestle has in the meantime bought an alternative superpremium (ice
cream) brand in Europe (Moevenpick) and, frankly, it makes no sense to buy the
whole of General Mills just to get its relatively tiny ice cream business," he
added.
Neither is Nestle in need of beefing up its US position, analysts said.
As much as quarter of the group's 2003 sales were generated in the US, which
is in any case a mature, declining, and perilously competitive market.
Moreover, under the 1989 joint venture formed to allow it to market General
Mills' cereal products outside the US, Nestle is prohibited from making a
hostile bid for General Mills, according to the newswire report.
And the US Fair Trade Commission undoubtedly would closely scrutinize any
projected merger, particularly for share concentration in the frozen food
market.
Nestle has also been adamant that no big deals on the horizon, most recently
in an interview with CEO Peter Brabeck published in a Swiss newpaper today.
"We have established ourselves in all major sectors that we consider to be
strategic," Brabeck said. "So (there are) no major deals in sight."
He did add, however, that the company will continue to "round off and
complement our activities in all countries in which we are present."
One such smaller deal, analysts believe, could be to buy Diageo's 22 pct
stake in General Mills.
Diageo has been long-rumoured to be looking for a buyer for the stake and
Citigroup analysts said in late May that Diageo's management was hinting that a
deal is imminent.
"Here I would not rule out nestle acquiring that stake, but then not doing
anything with it for years after that," said ABN Amro analyst Daniel Muller.
Spokespeople from both Nestle and Diageo declined to comment today.
newsdesk@afxnews.com

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