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Danone May Make Small Nutrition, Water Acquisitions, CFO Says

Danone, the world’s biggest yogurt maker, may purchase smaller companies to expand in medical nutrition and water, Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Andre Terisse said.

“There may be some acquisitions” in medical nutrition, he said in an interview in Paris after the company reported an 18 percent increase in 2010 profit. The bulk of the unit’s growth will come from existing businesses.

Danone also might make a “small” purchase in bottled water, Terisse said. The Evian bottler may expand existing water brands into new markets as it did by introducing the Mexican Bonafont brand to Brazil.

The French maker of Activia yogurt got 6 percent of its sales last year from medical nutrition and 17 percent from bottled water. Danone is also planning to add fresh fruit products to its ranges as part of a joint venture with Chiquita Brands International Inc., Terisse said.

“We think a bit wider than the pure use of milk or the pure use of water,” the CFO said, adding that Danone has introduced flavored waters and an energy drink in Asia called Mizone. Danone and Chiquita are testing the fruit products in Belgium and soon will start a trial in Germany, he said.

Danone might also start selling other products linked to Qua, an Indian water brand the company recently acquired that bottles water from the Himalayas, Terisse said.

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