Wahaha Considering Purchase of Japanese Yogurt Maker, Chairman Zong Says

Hangzhou Wahaha Group Chairman Zong Qinghou, China’s richest man, said he is considering buying a Japanese yogurt maker.

The Japanese company recently approached Wahaha, China’s third-biggest soft-drinks maker, about acquiring it, Zong said at a briefing in Beijing, where he’s attending the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress. Talks haven’t yet started, he said, without giving more details.

Zong, whose wealth was estimated by Forbes at $8 billion last year, has said he wants to buy foreign companies that produce products China lacks and which Wahaha can then sell domestically. The beverage maker, whose name means “laughing child” in Chinese, aims to boost sales 27 percent this year to 70 billion yuan ($10.6 billion).

“We’ve learned a lot from Japan’s food and drinks sector in the past because we have similar taste and Japan is more advanced,” Zong said.

Wahaha, based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, accounts for 9.7 percent of China’s dairy market, the third- largest share, according to data from Euromonitor International. China Mengniu Dairy Co. has the biggest share with 19.5 percent and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial (600887) Group Co. has 15.7 percent, according to Euromonitor.

Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Hangzhou Wahaha Group Chairman Zong Qinghou. Close

Hangzhou Wahaha Group Chairman Zong Qinghou.

Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Hangzhou Wahaha Group Chairman Zong Qinghou.

Zong also said that Wahaha has decided not to invest in Taiwan as the island’s market isn’t large enough.

- Michael Wei, Stephanie Wong, Tian Ying. Editors: John Liu, Hwee Ann Tan

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michael Wei in Beijing at +86-10-6649-7717 or Mwei13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Liu at jliu42@bloomberg.net

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