Consumer goods giant Unilever announced Sunday it has bought a majority stake in Chinese water purification company Qinyuan Group. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition was the biggest in which it has participated in China over the past decade, Unilever said.
Qinyuan Group produces water purifiers, drinking water equipment and water treatment membranes, and employs about 2,500 people at two manufacturing plants and two research and development laboratories. In 2013 it reported sales totaling almost EUR140 million ($194 million), the Unilever statement said.
According to Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, the deal will lead to a vast expansion of the company's water purification business by bringing together Unilever's own Pureit brand with the wide range of Qinyuan products. The Pureit brand is already available in a number of countries in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa but thanks to Qinyuan's expertise, knowledge of the internal market and distribution network, Unilever hopes to be able to tap into the rapidly growing Chinese market. It is estimated that the country's water purification market has been growing by an annual rate of 20 percent over the past three years.
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Meanwhile, the Chinese company's founder who will stay in the company as CEO, Mr. Ye, commented that the deal would allow both companies' innovative technologies to complement each other and turn China into a major hub for Unilever's Pureit business.