Japan's scandal-hit Snow Brand Milk Products has said that it now plans to cut its shares in a French winery joint venture as part of a major restructuring plan.
Snow Brand currently controls 51 per cent of Societe d'Exploitation et de Participation Vitivinicole, a joint venture formed with Drouhin, a Bourgogne-based winery.
"We are now planning to cut our capital investment in the venture," said a spokeswoman without elaborating. "But we have no plans to change our wine business strategy. We will continue current business relations with Drouhin." Snow Brand's domestic sales of imported wine stood at ¥ 670 million (€5.8m) for the year to March 2002.
Last week, Snow Brand said it was seeking $403 million (€430m) in aid from creditors and pledged a major shake-up as it struggles to survive after a series of scandals.
Snow Brand, once Japan's biggest dairy producer now ranked third, has said it will spin off its milk business and slash its workforce by 1,300 by September, with an ultimate target of reducing staff to 1,500 from 5,000 by next April.
Snow Brand caused Japan's worst food poisoning outbreak in 2000 when 13,000 people fell ill after drinking its bacteria-contaminated milk.It was also hit hard by a food mislabelling case at Snow Brand Foods, a now defunct meat packer subsidiary. As a result Snow Brand Milk's sales plunged, forcing it to devise the drastic corporate overhaul.