FRANCE: Danone quells Hangzhou Wahaha deadline talk
Reports from the country's media over the weekend have claimed that Danone and Hangzhou Wahaha have failed to reach agreement over the j-v in time for an initial deadline of 10 April. Danone accused Hangzhou Wahaha 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".
Speaking to just-drinks today (14 April), however, a spokesperson for Danone said that the negotiations were ongoing. "There is no new update to report on these discussions," the spokesperson said.
Separate reports out of China over the weekend have also claimed that Hangzhou Wahaha's chairman, Zong Qinghou, is under investigation for allegedly evading almost CNY300m (US$42.9mm) in taxes.
A report in Caijing Magazine said Zong earned $71m in salary during Wahaha's partnership with Danone from 1996 to 2006, and allegedly distributed the funds into several bank accounts, including those controlled by relatives and company officials. Since the start of the investigation, Song has paid over CNY200m in additional income tax, the magazine added.
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