French food group Danone has said it has no intention of launching a takeover bid for Japanese dairy firm Yakult Honsha, in which it holds a 19% stake.

"We developed ties with this company three years ago. We have no intention of launching a takeover bid," Danone finance director Emmanuel Faber was quoted by Reuters as saying

"With almost 20% of the capital, we have a solid cooperation base but we haven't agreed on a concrete partnership for the future. There's no urgency. We'll see," he added.

Faber later told Reuters that Danone's intentions towards Yakult were friendly and stressed that its stake in the Japanese company was an entry point that was neither "a floor nor a threshold".

Danone took an initial stake of 5% in Yakult in April 2002 and increased this to 19% in April this year.