NORTHFIELD, Illinois: Kraft Foods is set to significantly expand its European operations after agreeing to buy the rights to Danone’s biscuit brands in ninteen countries – including China, Russia and France – for €5.3bn (£3.5bn; $7.2bn).

Among the brands included are Lu and Prince, which are highly popular in France – the biggest market for Danone’s biscuits – but the deal excludes the company’s offerings in Latin America and India.

The purchase is also subject to employee consultation and regulatory approval by French and European competition authorities.

Kraft has undertaken to retain existing management and that there will be no factory closures for at least three years. Also that the operation's headquarters will remain in Paris for the "foreseeable future".

The US foods giant – which manufactures cookie brand Oreo and Ritz crackers – purchased the Spanish and Portuguese arms of United Biscuits last year. It has also been linked to a bid for Cadbury Schweppes confectionery business.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff