PepsiCo says to invest $5.5 bln in India by 2020


By Aditi Shah

Nov 11 (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc, the maker ofPepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay snacks and Tropicana juice, plans toinvest $5.5 billion in India by 2020 to expand its presence inthe country, it said on Monday.

PepsiCo's plans come after rival Coca-Cola Co, theworld's largest drinks maker, said in June last year it wouldinvest a total of $5 billion between 2012 and 2020 to grow itsbusiness in Asia's third-largest economy.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola's investments, driven by a growingmiddle class with higher disposable incomes, are likely to bewelcomed by Indian officials who are trying to restore foreigninvestor confidence after growth has fallen to a decade-low.

"India is a country with huge potential and it remains anattractive, high-priority market for PepsiCo," Chief ExecutiveOfficer Indra Nooyi said in a statement.

"We've built a highly successful business in India over thecourse of many years and we believe we've only scratched thesurface of the long-term growth opportunities that exist forPepsiCo and our partners," said Indian-born Nooyi on a visit tothe country.

PepsiCo and its partners plan to invest in expanding theirproduct range, doubling production capacity and improving theirsales and distribution network, especially in rural markets, thecompany said.

The company has 38 bottling plants and three food plants inIndia, according to its website, and generates more than 10billion rupees ($159 million) in annual sales from eightproducts including Pepsi and Frito-Lay potato chips, it said.

PepsiCo saw volumes in its snack business in Asia, theMiddle East and Europe rise 4 percent in the July-Septemberquarter, led by double-digit growth in China, Pakistan andTurkey. On the drinks side, volume rose 7 percent.

India is trying to attract more foreign investments byopening up various sectors including retail and telecoms in abid to narrow its current account deficit.

Separately Britain's biggest clothing retailer Marks &Spencer on Monday opened its largest store in India inMumbai, while Unilever said in April said itwould raise its stake in Hindustan Unilever to as muchas 75 percent from 52 percent.

However, India has also had some high-profile departures asthe government has been seeing as struggling to pass reforms.India's economy also slowed to a decade low of 5 percent in thefiscal year through March, while inflation has beenaccelerating.

In October BHP Billiton Ltd surrenderedalmost all its oil and gas blocks in the country, citing aninability to carry out exploration operations.

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