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Chinese Ministry Approves PepsiCo Agreement, Tingyi CFO Says

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March 29 (Bloomberg) -- PepsiCo Inc. received regulatory approval from the China’s Ministry of Commerce for its plan to swap its bottling operations in China for a stake in Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp.’s beverage business.

The approval was given today, Tingyi Chief Financial Officer Frank Lin said over the phone. Calls to the office of the Ministry of Commerce and Jennifer James, Pepsico’s spokeswoman in Hong Kong, weren’t answered.

PepsiCo will transfer equity interests in bottling operations in China to Tingyi-Asahi Beverages Holding Co., according to the agreement announced in November. In exchange, PepsiCo will receive 5 percent of Tingyi-Asahi, with an option to increase the stake to 20 percent by October 2015.

Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo aims to maximize growth in China and the alliance may narrow the gap with Coca-Cola Co. in the world’s fastest-growing drinks market where PepsiCo ranked fourth in the country’s soft-drink market and Coca-Cola was No. 1 in 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Wei in Shanghai at mwei13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at swong139@bloomberg.net