Danone, Britannia Breakup on Cards

French food giant Groupe Danone will soon part ways with its Indian partner Britannia and launch products on its own in the booming Indian market, reports today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Apparently, there has been tensions between the two companies over Danone’s plans to enter the market on its own.

By the terms of a 1995 contract, Danone had agreed not to launch food brands in India without the approval of the Wadia family, which owns 24.5% of the company. Nusli Wadia (grandson of Pakistan founder M.A.Jinnah) is Chairman of Britannia.

Danone owns 25.5% of Britannia, which is one of India’s biggest brands and the maker of a variety of biscuits (cookies).

According to the WSJ story,

Danone and the Wadias are in talks that could lead to an exit by Danone from the venture, according to people familiar with the situation. One of those people says an agreement could be reached within a month. A possibility is that Danone will pay the Wadias a fee to leave the venture.

Danone’s tensions with Britannia comes close on the heels of recent reports suggesting that all’s not well with its Chinese drinks joint venture Wahaha.

With its economy growing at well over 8% for the last few years, India is one of the promising emerging markets for consumer products companies worldwide.

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