Groupe Danone has refused to be drawn on whether a clause in the agreement underpinning its Indian joint venture could hamper any attempt to sell its stake to a third party.

Danone is embroiled in a long-running spat with India’s Wadia Group over their local venture Britannia Industries, India’s largest biscuit maker.

Wadia has accused Danone of violating the trademark agreements drawn up as part of the venture, claims that have led to speculation that the French food group Danone could sell its 25.5% stake in Britannia.

Talks between the two sides have taken place, while Danone recently told just-food that a stake sale could be “one solution among others”.

However, a report in the Indian newspaper The Economic Times today (31 July) claimed that a “pre-emptive rights” clause in the venture could prevent Danone from offloading its stake to a third party.

Danone refused to comment on the report when contacted by just-food today. However, if the clause exists, it could be an obstacle to Danone from selling on its interest in Britannia, should it wish to do so.

Last week, Britannia reported a leap in first-quarter profits.Britannia posted a 19% rise in net profit to INR361m (US$9m) on the back of an identical rise in turnover.

Last month, Danone sold its biscuit and cereal businesses to Kraft Foods, although the deal did not include its units in India or Latin America.