PepsiCo to buy stake of Wimm-Bill-Dann for $3.8B

PepsiCo now has access to the healthier drinks consumers are increasingly clamoring for, as Wimm-Bill-Dann produces dairy and juice products including Chudo, J7 and Lubimy Sad.

By , Associated Press

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    Donald M. Kendall, co-founder of the PepsiCo company seen during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 2. PepsiCo, one of the world's largest food-and-beverage companies, and Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods, Russia's leading branded food-and-beverage company announced that PepsiCo will acqure 66 percent of Wimm-Bill-Dann for $3.8 billon.

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PepsiCo Inc. is buying a majority stake in Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods for $3.8 billion, making it the biggest Russian food and beverage company.

The move also gives PepsiCo access to the healthier drinks consumers are increasingly clamoring for, as Wimm-Bill-Dann produces dairy and juice products including Chudo, J7 and Lubimy Sad.

"This deal makes perfect sense for Pepsi," John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest said, explaining that the acquisition allows PepsiCo to diversify its portfolio and pick up some health-conscious products.

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The transaction is in line with similar steps taken by rival Coca-Cola Co., which bought Russian juice producer Nidan for an undisclosed sum in September. Coca-Cola has invested $2 billion since the early 1990s into Russia and plans to invest another $1 billion in the next three to five years.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been increasing their presence in Russia, China and other emerging countries in part to offset weakness at home and in developed markets, where people have been curbing spending because of the uncertain economy.

PepsiCo gets about 40 percent of its revenue from outside the U.S. and Canada. The soft drink and snack maker, whose brands include Tropicana, Frito-Lay, Quaker and Pepsi-Cola, announced a $1 billion investment program for Russia last year.

PepsiCo said Thursday it plans to pay for its 66 percent stake in Wimm-Bill-Dann with available cash and short-term debt financing. Each selling stockholder will receive $33 per American depositary receipt. PepsiCo said it will offer to buy the remaining stake in another bid following the initial offer's completion.

The company's stock gained 7 cents to $65.70 in premarket trading.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said in a statement that the deal will help it provide customers with nutritious foods and drinks that are affordable and accessible.

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, previously announced it was forming a new Global Nutrition Group to help it create new products and cut sodium, sugar and certain fats across its portfolio, including chips in its Frito-Lay division. Earlier this year, PepsiCo said it was setting out to triple its sales of healthier fare to $30 billion by 2020.

The Wimm-Bill-Dann acquisition will boost PepsiCo's annual global revenue from nutritious and functional foods to almost $13 billion from approximately $10 billion.

The acquisition, which also broadens PepsiCo's presence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is expected to modestly add to PepsiCo's earnings in the first year.

Wimm-Bill-Dann, founded in 1992, had revenue of about $2.4 billion for the year ended in June 2010. It has 38 manufacturing plants in Russia, the Ukraine and Central Asia with more than 16,000 employees.

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