Unilever makes decade's biggest investment in Chinese water purifier maker Qinyuan

In its biggest investment in China in the last decade, Unilever Plc, the Anglo–Dutch multinational consumer goods giant, yesterday acquired a majority stake in Chinese water purification company Qinyuan Group, in order to double the size of its water purification business.

The London-based company did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but said that Qinyuan generated sales of about €140 million ($200 million) in 2013. It also added that Qinyuan is its biggest acquisition in China for more than ten years.

Based in Zhejiang province, Qinyuan produces household water purifiers, drinking water equipment and water treatment membranes.

Founded in 1998, Qinyuan invented the first water purifier for dispensing water and the first instant hot water dispenser in the world.

Qinyuan holds more than 300 international and national patents, and has four major production plants having an annual production capacity of 2.5 million sets of water dispenser.

Unilever, whose brands include Dove, Sunsilk, Axe and Lipton, said that its Pureit purifiers and Qinyuan's product range offer different and complementary performance and price points and will enable the combined business to offer a complete range of products.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, ''Unilever has been building a global water purification business with Pureit, a very effective, affordable water purification device, already present in several countries in South Asia, South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

''This deal will more than double the size of our water purification business and will bring together complementary technology from Pureit and Qinyuan and leverage Qinyuan's local marketing insight, manufacturing and distribution strength – all under the Unilever umbrella,'' he added.

Polman said this was also Unilever's biggest investment in 10 years.

Qinyuan founder, Ye, who will continue to be CEO of the company, said, ''We think the deal brings together very relevant innovation, technology, design and manufacturing capabilities which can enable China to become an important hub in the development of the global Unilever Pureit business.''