The world's No.2 soft drink firm PepsiCo has agreed to buy Russia's top juice maker Lebedyansky for $1.5-2 billion to boost its modest Russian juice market share, a newspaper reported on Monday.
Kommersant business daily said the deal would take place before the year end, and PepsiCo would buy over 76 percent of Lebedyansky for $1.5-$2 billion, implying a possible premium to its market capitalization, which at Friday's closing price was $1.95 billion for the whole company.
A spokesman for Lebedyansky declined to comment. PepsiCo was unavailable to comment.
The news sent shares in Lebedyansky up 7 percent to 2,600 roubles ($102).
PepsiCo controls around a fifth of the Russian soft drinks market and around a third of potato chip sales, but currently controls just 2 percent of the Russian juice market through the Tropicana brand.
PepsiCo's main rival, CocaCola, controls over a fifth of the Russian juice market after the $530 million purchase of producer Multon in 2005.
PepsiCo has no juice-producing assets in Russia, and Lebedyansky, which controls over 30 percent of the Russian juice market, is seen as an attractive target for the beverage giant.
Analysts said the deal could have become more likely after private equity group Lion Capital agreed to buy PepsiCo's previous target, Russia's No. 3 fruit juice maker, Nidan Soki.
We have long seen Lebedyansky, with its leading market position in juice and its best-in-class distribution system, as an attractive takeover target for international food and beverage companies, Alfa Bank said in a note.
About 23 percent of Lebedyansky shares are freely floated, while 76 percent are controlled by a group of Russian businessmen, including former director Nikolay Bortsov and his son Yuri, the firm's chairman.
Kommersant said Deutsche Bank was advising PepsiCo on the deal.