PepsiCo To Close $7.8 Billion Bottling Deal

World's second-biggest soft drink seller said it has cleared final regulatory hurdle in bid to buy its two biggest bottlers, allowing it to close on $7.8 billion deal by Friday.

PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) -- PepsiCo Inc. said Thursday that it has cleared a final regulatory hurdle in its bid to buy its two biggest bottlers, allowing it to close on its $7.8 billion deal by Friday.

"There are no further regulatory approvals required to complete the acquisitions," PepsiCo said.

The announcement followed rival Coca-Cola Co.'s announcement earlier in the day that it, too, would do a bottler deal. It plans to buy the North American operations of its biggest bottler.

PepsiCo, the world's second-biggest soft drink seller, expects the deal to close at the end of the day Friday, now that the Federal Trade Commission granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hard-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Both companies are buying the bottlers in an effort to cut costs and better keep up with changing tastes. Having control over the distribution system allows the companies to more quickly change out what drinks they are putting on shelves.

PepsiCo's deal, announced in August, followed months of rejections by its two largest North American bottlers. Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas ultimately agreed to a $7.8 billion deal that gives PepsiCo control of 80 percent of its domestic distribution.

The company estimated it would save $400 million from owning its bottlers, though analysts predict savings could be double that.

In the Coca-Cola Co. proposal, the soft drink seller plans to give up its 34 percent stake in Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., worth $3.4 billion, and assumes $8.88 billion in debt. It will sell its Norwegian and Swedish bottling operations to Coca-Cola Enterprises for $822 million. The deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Coca-Cola will control about 90 percent of the bottling of its products in North America. It estimates savings of $350 million over four years.

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