Danone has agreed to sell its 51% stake in a joint venture with China's Wahaha, bringing to an end their long-running dispute.

Danone and Wahaha announced today (30 September) that they have agreed to settle their differences, following years of court battles across the globe.

Danone has agreed to sell its stake in Danone-Wahaha joint ventures to Chinese partners, ending all legal proceedings, in a deal that involved diplomatic efforts by both the Chinese and French governments.

Financial details surrounding the settlement were not disclosed.

The French food and drink giant signed a joint venture deal with Wahaha in 1996, but relations soured after Danone accused its partner of illegally copying products that the two firms' had agreed would only be sold within the venture.
Franck Riboud, Danone CEO and chairman, said today: "The collaboration between Danone and Wahaha helped to build a strong and respected leader in the Chinese beverage industry. We are confident that Wahaha will continue to be highly successful under its future management guidance.

"Danone has a longstanding commitment to China where it has been present since 1987 and we are keen to accelerate the success of our Chinese activities."

Wahaha Group chairman Zong Qinhou defended the reputation of Chinese companies. "China is an open country. Chinese people are broad-minded people. Chinese companies are willing to cooperate and grow with the world's leading peers on the basis of equality and reciprocal benefit," he said.

In June, Danone dismissed a claim by Wahaha that the Chinese group had "won" the dispute.