The Hangzhou Wahaha Group, China's largest beverage maker, has held talks about buying Groupe Danone SA out of their ventures. Danone said valuation discussions don't mean it would necessarily sell the stakes.
While talks between Wahaha and Danone stalled, the Chinese company hasn't ruled out further discussions, said Yang Yongjun, legal assistant to Wahaha's general manager.
Danone set an asking price for its 51-percent stake in the companies' 39 joint ventures at between 17.6 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion) and 20.9 billion yuan, Yang said in Hangzhou yesterday. Wahaha set its valuation for the stakes at 2.33 billion yuan to 3.27 billion yuan.
The battle for the Wahaha name has led to at least 25 lawsuits and legal proceedings in five countries as the estranged partners battle for control of a trademark with sales of at least US$1.7 billion.
Michael Chu, a spokesman for Paris-based Danone, said the two companies agreed to appoint financial advisers to draw up valuations of the ventures.
"A valuation doesn't mean that we're buying or selling, it's just the base for an amicable settlement," Chu told Bloomberg News.
(Shanghai Daily July 18, 2008)