Groupe DANONE to Increase Stake in Indonesia's AQUA from 40% to 74%

PARIS, March 20, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- Groupe DANONE and the Utomo Family have agreed for Groupe DANONE to increase its 40% shareholding in the Aqua Group of Companies in Indonesia to 74%.

Groupe DANONE acquired a 40% stake in the Aqua Group in 1998, and the successful partnership with the founding Utomo family has resulted in high growth.

Aqua is a strong leader on the Indonesian water market, one of the fastest growing in the world. Aqua Group sales volumes grew 50% in 2000 to 1.8 billion liters, and net sales amounted to Euro 91 million for the period with attractive profitability.

Aqua is already, by volume, the largest packaged water brand in Asia and the No. 2 in the world.

Aqua Group has 12 factories with ISO9002 certification, 9,500 employees, and 43 distribution depots providing a national network with extensive Home and Office Delivery and retail market coverage. Since early 2000, Aqua brand has been co-branded as Aqua Danone.

Groupe DANONE is the second largest packaged water group in the world with international, famous brands like Evian and Volvic. It is already the No. 1 player in Asia with a leading market share position in China. Groupe DANONE is also the leading Biscuit player in the Asia Pacific region.

The Group has registered a very strong development in the region over the last few years, with a 30% yearly average sales growth since 1996. At the end of 2000, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 12% of the total Group net sales and 39% of its employees, 33,570 people, were located in this region.

The transaction is subject to Indonesia's government approval.


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