French food group Danone said on Monday it plans to pay 12.3 billion euros ($16.77 billion) for Dutch rival Numico, in a widely expected move after Danone agreed to sell its biscuits unit last week.
The deal, backed unanimously by both companies' boards, is expected to reach definitive agreement within the next few weeks, the companies said.
Shares in Numico had risen almost 11% to a six-year high before they were suspended earlier on Monday, after traders cited market talk of Danone's
Danone's offer is 44% above Numico's average closing price over the past three months, the companies said.
The offer is based on the number of Numico shares outstanding at the end of its first quarter. Based on diluted shares and stock options, resulting in a count of 223 million shares, Danone said the deal is worth 12.3 billion euros.
Danone said last week it was in exclusive talks to sell its biscuit and cereal snack unit for 5.3 billion euros to Kraft Foods
] , the world's biggest cookie maker.
Some analysts have said the baby food business of Dutch food group Numico could fit with Danone's dairy business and its Bledina baby food, which sells in France and Belgium.