Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Uni-President reportedly eyeing rival

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Uni-President Enterprises Corp (統一企業), the nation's largest food conglomerate, is evaluating the possibility of merging with China's biggest producer of fruit juices as part of the company's efforts to quickly expand its operation turf.

The news that Uni-President might be in talks with Beijing Huiyuan Beverage and Food (北京匯源飲料食品) was revealed earlier yesterday by a Financial Times report, which said the proposed deal could lead to the sale of one of China's best-known brands for up to US$500 million.

The juice maker has also held informal talks with Coca-Cola Co, Pepsi Co and the Paris-based Groupe Danone, but "Uni-President was the frontrunner to buy privately owned Huiyuan," the report cited people close to the situation as saying.

Contacted by the Taipei Times yesterday, Uni-President gave a low-key response, but did not deny the possibility of buying into its Chinese rival.

"As the company is evaluating the deal, it's inappropriate for me to comment on the case before it is finalized," Uni-President spokesman Simon Hung (洪士民) said yesterday.

Uni-President, which has expanded its operations to China, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, aims to become Asia's largest food manufacturer by 2017, executive vice president Lo Chih-hsien (羅智先) told reporters in January.

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