California-based Heckmann Corporation has acquired Chinese bottled water producer China Water & Drinks in a deal worth US$625m.

Heckmann said that $455m of the total purchase price is expected to be paid in common stock at an exchange ratio of $0.80 per share of Heckmann stock for each share of China Water stock, with around $170m to be paid in cash at $5.00 per share.

Holders of a majority of China Water's stock have already approved the transaction. Heckmann said it had been cleared to apply to list its securities on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and that it expects its common stock, units, and warrants to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 23 May.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the autumn. After completion of the deal, Dick Heckmann is to remain as chairman and CEO of Heckmann Corporation, while Xu Hongbin, the founder and chairman of China Water, will serve as the CEO of China Water and Drinks, which will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Heckmann. Xu Hongbin is also to join the Heckmann board.

"We are very pleased to announce this transaction, as China Water will be our platform to build a global water company," said Dick Heckmann. "We are excited about the opportunity to build another company in the water sector and believe that the attractive growth profile and favourable market dynamics make this an ideal acquisition for our SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company)."

Heckman said that China Water's operations, combined with the economic growth, favourable demographics and need for clean, safe drinking water in China, offered the company strong growth potential.

He added: "In order to help execute our growth strategy, we are in the process of assembling a board of directors and a senior management team that has extensive experience in the water sector both in Asia as well as in other international markets."

Founded in 1996, China Water and Drinks is headquartered in Hong Kong, and produces bottled water under the Darcunk brand and private labels. It has plants in six cities with distribution in 14 provinces and regions across China.

Heckmann Corporation, a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) or "blank cheque" company, completed its initial public offering of 54.1m units at $8.00 per unit in November, 2007, generating gross proceeds of approximately $432.9m.