Groupe Danone has filed a lawsuit against the owner of one of its partners in China.

The France-based company confirmed yesterday (4 June) that it has filed a complaint in the US against Ever Maple Trading and Hangzhou Hongsheng Beverage Co.

Danone owns 51% of a joint venture in China with Hangzhou Wahaha, which is a subsidiary of Hangzhou Hongsheng, itself controlled by British Virgin Islands-based Ever Maple Trading.

"Hangzhou Wahaha Food and Beverage Sales is illegally selling products which are the same as those sold by Wahaha Joint Ventures and is making unlawful use of the joint ventures' distributors and suppliers," Danone said.

The company added that it hopes to "put a stop to the defendants' collective scheme to wrongfully interfere with its customer relationships and business prospects".

Last month, Danone instructed the chairman of the Wahaha joint venture, Zong Qinghou, to start legal action against Hangzhou Wahaha. The company set a time-frame for the instruction of 30 days.

When contacted by just-drinks, a spokesperson for the company said: "Discussions between ourselves and Mr Zong (who is also the head of Hangzhou Wahaha) are still going on."