Groupe Danone has refused to comment on reports that it has decided to pull out of its commercial relationship with Chinese joint venture partner Hangzhou Wahaha.

The French company is reportedly looking for an "honourable" way to extract itself from its troubled partnership, a report in Les Echos has claimed. The newspaper did not cite its sources, while a spokesperson for Danone declined to comment on the report when contacted by just-drinks today (22 May).

Danone accused Hangzhou Wahaha early last year of illegally selling products "which are the same as the joint venture's products under (the) Wahaha trademark, without proper authorisation". Hangzhou Wahaha dismissed the allegation, and countersued Danone in June, claiming up to EUR5bn (US$6.73bn) in damages for what it termed "illegal activities".

In December, the two sides called a truce and are currently in negotiations to try to resolve the situation.