Pepsi is trying to corner the market in (Russian) frozen orange juice!

December 2, 2010, 5:19 PM UTC

It seems that Indra Nooyi has begun to channel her inner  Duke…

Pepsi Co. (PEP) this morning announced that it has agreed to acquire a two-thirds stake in Russian juice-maker Wimm-Bill-Dann (WBD) for approximately $3.8 billion, or $33 per share (32% premium to yesterday’s closing price). It then would seek to acquire the company’s remaining shares via a follow-on offering.

Rumors of the deal began swirling yesterday afternoon, but papers couldn’t be signed until preliminary Russian antitrust concerns were satisfied. In fact, a source familiar with the negotiations said that Vladimir Putin himself was involved in the final sign-off.

How come? Because this deal, once completed, would give Pepsi more than a 48% piece of the Russian juice market (based on more recent numbers than the accompanying graph).

It began its quest back in 2007, when it paid $1.4 billion for around a 75% stake in Lebedyansky (approx. 30% market share). That put it just ahead of rival Coca-Cola (COKE), which in 2005 had acquired Multon (23% stake). Coke then upped the ante earlier this year by purchasing Nidan from private equity firm Lion Capital, and now Pepsi is coming back over the top with Wimm-Bill-Dann (which also holds various baby food and dairy assets).

Take a look back at that Lebedyansky figure for a moment: At the time, Pepsi believed that acquiring a 30% stake in the Russian juice market was worth $1.4 billion. Today, it is adding another 18% or so for around $5.4 billion (when the follow-on offering is included). Are Russians mixing in more OJ with their vodkas, or did Pepsi get a steal back in 2007?

“Wimm‐Bill‐Dann is a terrific business with significant opportunities,” said Zein Abdalla, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Europe, in a prepared statement. “Wimm‐Bill‐Dann’s management team has built an outstanding portfolio of market‐leading dairy and juice brands that are loved by consumers across Russia. The combination of Wimm‐Bill‐Dann and PepsiCo Russia will create a powerhouse business in terms of scale, brand portfolio and system capabilities with the potential to be leveraged across the broader East European and Central Asian region.”