PepsiCo Buys Russian Drink Company

Pays $5.8 billion for Wimm-Bill-Dann

PepsiCo's purchase of one of Russia's top drinks companies will make the food giant a dominant force on the Russian market and extend its reach deep into former Soviet lands.

PepsiCo agreed to acquire Wimm-Bill-Dann for $5.8 billion, a spokeswoman for the Russian company said. Pepsi will gain immediate control of a 66% stake for $3.8 billion. The remaining shares will be obtained through a free-float.

News of the agreement sent WBD shares surging 21.5% on the Moscow exchange in mid-day trading.

Wimm-Bill-Dann is Russia's largest dairy and baby food producer and number three juice maker. It reports having 35 production facilities stretching from Ukraine to Central Asia employing 18,000 workers.

Its J7 juice is the most popular brand in Russia -- giving PespiCo the access it had sought for years in former Soviet countries.

The deal is believed to be the largest in the U.S. company's history and one of the most important ever concluded outside the Russian energy market.

Wimm-Bill-Dann reported revenues of $2.18 billion in 2009. It said earnings were hurt that year by a ruble devaluation and predicted a stronger performance for 2010.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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