March 11 - Reuters has learned Greek yogurt maker Chobani is talking to consumer and private equity firms about a deal that would value it at about $2.5 billon. Fred Katayama reports.
Chobani is offering a big bite, and we're not talking about its yogurt. Reuters has learned that the fast-growing Greek yogurt maker is considering selling a 20 percent stake in a deal that would value Chobani at roughly $2.5 billion. Sources say it is talking to consumer companies and private equity firms. It opted against going public because the competition has become as thick as Greek yogurt with giants such as Danone and General Mills competing for shelf space. Chobani grew faster than its cultures in less than a decade to become the number two Greek yogurt brand in the U.S., turning its founder Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant, into a billionaire. Its sales grew 30 percent last year to more than $1 billion. It hit that milestone despite having to recall moldy cups of yogurt last fall after some customers complained it made them ill. And Whole Foods has dropped Chobani from its lineup, but Chobani says the retailer accounts for just a fraction of its business.