French bank Crédit Agricole has acquired more than one third of the holding company that controls France's third biggest bottled water group, Les Eaux St Armand.

The firm, which produces 500m bottles annually on sales of EUR100m (US$140.7m), was previously majority-owned by its founder's children.

Their stake has fallen to around 33% following the deal with Crédit Agricole, which has not disclosed a fee or specific figure for its acquired stake.

A bank spokesperson told just-drinks today (27 January) that it has moved to stabilise Les Eaux St Armand's shareholder structure and allow it to remain independent.

“It’s an investment of circumstance which provides a mid-term solution,” the bank said.

Only Nestle and Danone are bigger in France than Les Eaux St Armand, which has six plants and produces own-label and branded water. It recently appointed former Evian brand chief François-Pierre Martin as president.