Danone has denied press reports it is to pull out of its joint venture for water with Coca-Cola in the US.

French newspaper Le Monde said today that Coca-Cola is to buy out its French partner and the board of the soft drink giant were expected to approve the acquisition of Danone's 49% in the joint venture yesterday.

In June 2002, Coca-Cola paid US$128m in cash for a 51% stake in a partnership to market and distribute Danone's bottled spring and source waters in the US. Danone's part in the deal saw it contribute the assets of its retail bottled spring and source water business in the US, including five production facilities, a license for the use of the Dannon and Sparkletts brands and ownership of several value brands.

Les Echoes said today that the planned acquisition of Danone's share in the business would see Coca-Cola licensed to manage the marketing of Danone bottled water brands Dannon Waters and Sparkletts. It already has a license for Evian.

Coca-Cola would also commit to strengthening the marketing for the French bands for the next five years.

However, Danone later today denied it had reached a deal.

"Renegotiations avec Coca-Cola on the distribution of Danone's waters in the United States are under way. The Danone Group denies putting an end to our collaboration," a spokeswoman told Reuters.

"As soon as a definitive agreement is signed, probably in several weeks, the group will inform the market," she said.

In November, just-drinks reported that Danone was looking to rewrite its joint venture with Coke after falling sales of its products in the US.