Report: PepsiCo Seeking Russian Juice Maker

Shares in Russia's biggest juice producer, OAO Lebedyansky, rose today on reports that PepsiCo Inc. was seeking a controlling stake.

MOSCOW (AP) — Shares in Russia's biggest juice maker, OAO Lebedyansky, rose Monday after a newspaper reported that PepsiCo Inc. was seeking a controlling stake in the company.
Consumer goods manufacturers have scrambled to get into Russian market as wages and disposable income rise with the country's oil-fueled economic boom.
Kommersant daily cited unidentified banking sources and a manager in Lebedyansky as saying that the U.S.-based beverage and snack maker was in discussions to buy more than 76 percent in the company from its founders for more than US$1.5 billion (euro1.1 billion).
The deal for Lebedyansky, whose brands include Ya and Tonus, could be tied up in September or October, the paper said.
Lebedyansky shares gained as much as 4.5 percent to US$101 (euro74) on Moscow's RTS exchange, before later easing back to US$99 (euro73), a gain of 2.4 percent.
Alexander Kostikov, a spokesman for the juice maker, declined to comment on the report.
''If there was a deal we would have made an official announcement,'' he said. ''I am not aware of any negotiations.''
PepsiCo International spokesman Dick Detwiler also declined to comment, saying it was company policy not to discuss such matters.
Currently PepsiCo produces only its Tropicana brand in Russia, at Lebedyansky rival Nidan.
''We have always argued that PepsiCo has to increase its presence in the Russian juice market and clearly Lebedyansky, which is the market leader and the best-run company, was the most obvious target,'' Aleksei Krivoshapko, an analyst with the Deutsche UFG investment bank, wrote Monday in a note to investors.
Western beverage companies are looking to non-carbonated drinks like water and juices for sales growth as consumers, particularly in North America, turn away from sugar-laden soft drinks.
PepsiCo in June bought Ukrainian juice maker Sandora for US$542 million (euro397 million), in June, while Coca-Cola Co. purchased Russia's Muton in 2005 for US$500 million (euro366 million).
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