Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jingoism, Nationalism, Unocal, and Danone;
Is Yogurt a "Strategic Industry"?

If you think people in the U.S. went a little crazy when it looked as if a Chinese firm might buy out Unocal in the oil business, you should see how the French are reacting to a possible takeover of Danone Yogurt by Pepsico:

The German government recently undertook considerable efforts to guarantee German control of German shipyards. The French Prime Minister has come to the defense of... yogurt.

... as Le Figaro points out, the acquisition of Danone by Nestlé would risk giving the latter a monopoly position in the markets in question. An acquisition by PepsiCo presents no such problems. One Danone employee interviewed on French television about the rumored takeover bid sighed: "Anything but the Americans...". Could French and EU authorities, in much the same spirit, prefer the creation of a "European" monopoly? Their recent sanctioning of the acquisition of Vivendi Universal Publishing (VUP) by Hachette-Lagardère suggests the answer is: "yes".

... EURSOC provides much useful background - recounting how Danone went from the bete noir of French industry to the current damsel in distress threatened by the "American ogre" - in "Yoghurt War".
Yoghurt War provides a superbly written summary of the situation. Highly recommended for those who like irony and/or sarcasm.

Update: Pepsico was apparently never interested in buying Danone. The rumour might, in fact, have been part of a stock price manipulation scheme. Makes the bruhaha even more haha.

On Monday, the French Financial Market Authority (AMF) announced that it had received assurances from the PepsiCo Corporation that, contrary to widespread rumors, the latter was not in fact preparing a takeover bid for Danone.

...In the meanwhile, following the request of Colette Neuville, President of the Association for the Defense of Minority Shareholders (ADAM), the Financial Market Authority has opened an inquiry into a possible manipulation of the Danone stock price.

[thanks to Alan Adamson for the pointers]
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