Yakult Honsha Co. said last month that a Singapore unit of French foods giant Danone SA has raised its stake in the Japanese lactic bacteria drink maker to 19.58% from 5.10% to become the biggest shareholder.

Danone, known for its Dannon dairy products, LU cookies and Evian mineral water, acquired the original 5.10% holding in the Japanese company in April 2000 through the unit. Yakult said Dannon told it that it raised the stake in Yakult as a long-term investment reflecting Danone's confidence in the company and its management. Yakult said it will continue its business as it has been.

In April 2000, Yakult and Danone said they would form a partnership in the lactic bacteria drink business but those discussions broke down in just three months because they failed to agree on details like where and how to market products.