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Danone's bid for Wahaha action fails
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Groupe Danone SA's requests for interim measures against estranged Chinese venture partner Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co and its Chairman Zong Qinghou were rejected by an arbitration tribunal in Sweden.

The French food and beverage producer had sought to bar China's largest beverage maker from setting up new units or increasing production capacity outside of their ventures, according to a statement released by Wahaha on Sunday.

The Paris-based bottler of Evian water is in at least 25 lawsuits and arbitration proceedings in five countries with Wahaha and its founder Zong over Danone's claims that Wahaha broke their agreement by making rival Wahaha-branded products, Bloomberg News said.

The panel also rejected Danone's demand that any goods produced by Wahaha on its own be sold through the venture, the statement said. It granted Danone the right to access all premises of all of ventures between both parties, it said. The requests were filed in October.

While Danone was offered the chance to visit the ventures' various premises, no directors showed up, the Wahaha statement said.

Wahaha will "respect" the access order, it said. Danone owns 51 percent of each of the 39 companies set up with Wahaha since forming the venture in 1996.

(Shanghai Daily July 15, 2008)

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