Danone has won a court order that has frozen the assets of ten overseas firms with alleged links to the French group's estranged Chinese partner, Wahaha.

Since June, Danone and Wahaha have become embroiled in a legal dispute over their beverages venture in China.

Danone has accused Wahaha of breaching their agreement by selling drinks under the Wahaha brand without permission.

Today (22 November), a spokesman for Danone's business in China told just-food that four of its subsidiaries had filed claims against firms said to be linked to Wahaha in the British Virgin Islands and Samoa.

In response, a court in the British Virgin Islands has ordered a freeze on the assets of eight companies in the country. Meanwhile, Samoa's Supreme Court has placed a similar freeze on the assets of two companies on the Pacific island.

The spokesman said: "According to the registration files in Chinese government, these ten offshore companies are majority shareholders of most of the 39 non joint venture companies who are illegally producing and selling the beverage products under the Wahaha trademark."

The spokesman added that those products are "competing directly with the legitimate Wahaha joint venture companies, who have the exclusive rights to use and sub-license the Wahaha trademark according to the contract".

Danone joined forces with Wahaha in 1996 and has 51% stake in the original venture, which looks to have turned sour.

Officials at Wahaha were not immediately available for comment.