May 18/Minneapolis/Associated Press -- General Mills says it has signed a deal to buy a controlling stake in French yogurt company Yoplait for about $1.15 billion.

The deal protects General Mills' U.S. yogurt business. The food maker has sold the world's second-largest yogurt brand under license in the U.S. for 30 years. The companies have been in arbitration about the future of that license.

Under the terms of the deal with PAI partners and French dairy cooperative Sodiaal, General Mills will take a 51% stake in Yoplait SAS and a 50% interest in a related entity that holds the worldwide Yoplait brands. Sodiaal will hold the remaining stakes.

The acquisition still needs regulatory approval. General Mills Inc. expects the deal to close in its first quarter, which begins May 30.

From the May 18, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.