Nestle in troubled waters over sale of Perrier plant

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The Independent Online
PARIS (AFP) - Nestle's efforts to sell the Thonon mineral water unit of the recently-acquired French Perrier group have hit problems.

Nestle has found out that while it might own the Thonon bottling plant in Haute-Savoie, it does not own the water that goes with it.

Thonon's mayor, Paul Neuraz, wrote to the European Commission and the French government this month to remind both that, under the conditions of a 30-year concession awarded to Perrier in 1964, rights to exploit the water cannot be transferred. A municipal official said that after its contract with Perrier runs out in 1994, Thonon intends to seek a more lucrative deal for its most important asset.

The town receives half a centime (0.05p) for every bottle of water produced, with 35 million bottles expected to be sold this year.

Nestle acquired Perrier in July, but was ordered to sell a number of the group's mineral water units, including Thonon, under EC anti- monopoly regulations.