Groupe Danone SA (DANOY) is in talks with Japanese companies to sell its bottled water business, including the iconic Evian brand, in a deal worth as much as $7 billion.

Danone is in talks with companies including Kirin Holdings (KNBWY), The Wall Street Journal said without naming its sources. Other potential buyers include Suntory Holdings and Asahi Breweries (ASBRY).

It is still possible that no deal will take place.

The bottled water industry has struggled in recent years, as environmental concerns and the economic downturn have weakened demand. Danone's bottled water business by volume, with a global market share of 11.7%.

Still, the unit is growing much more slowly than the rest of Danone.

"Danone's bottled water business, at least in Western Europe, could become a drag on its wider ambition," Rob Walker, an analyst with Euromonitor, wrote in an August report. "And that might start the divestment bells ringing."

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