French drinks giant Groupe Danone has agreed to acquire Chateaud'eau International, the holding company controlling all the water jugs (HOD or "home and office delivery) businesses of the Suez Group. The deal has been made with Ondeo, a subsidiary of the Suez Group.

Chateaud'eau is the French leader in HOD with a 28% market share. The company is a major player on the fast growing European HOD market with strong positions in Italy (number two), Spain (number three) and the UK.

With an average annual volume growth rate of 40% per annum since 1995, the European HOD market is one of the most buoyant worldwide. The total number of coolers (in excess of 1 million units in 2001) is expected to double by 2004 and treble by 2007.

Chateaud'eau, with a turnover of approximately €50m, supplies 62,000 customers and operates nearly 150,000 coolers.

This is the first acquisition by Danone in the European HOD market. The coompany is already the world leader in the sector, thanks to its leading positions in the Americas (Canada, United States, Mexico, Argentina), and in Asia (#1 in Indonesia and China).