Coke Close to Total Evian Distribution in North America

The Coca-Cola Co. and Groupe Danone SA reportedly are close to a deal that would make Coke the licensed importer and distributor of Danone's Evian mineral water in North America.

In addition, both companies had preliminary talks about Coke's potential purchase of Danone's Waters of North America unit, which offers home-and-office delivery of bottled water, primarily on the West Coast.

While Coke's largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., already distributes Evian in 60 percent of the United States, an import deal would give Coke total control over U.S. distribution of Evian.

Details on the deal for Atlanta-based Coke to import and distribute Evian – first reported in the Wall Street Journal – are still being worked out.

Paris-based Danone also has held talks about Evian and parts of its U.S. water business with Cadbury Schweppes PLC.

Coke, which entered the U.S. bottled-water market in 1999 with Dasani, a purified-water brand, is the No. 3 company in the 3.53 billion U.S. market, behind Nestle and Pepsi.

Danone, which owns the Evian, Dannon and Volvic water brands and the Waters of North America business, holds the No. 4 slot.

Dow Jones Business News

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