Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods, the Russian dairy and baby-food group, is reportedly ready to make acquisitions outside the country this year.

Speaking to Reuters today (18 June), Wimm-Bill-Dann director David Yakobashvili said the company is prepared to spend "a lot of money".

"We have a good credit component and we have registered a bond issue for US$1bn," Yakobashvili said.

Yakobashvili's comments came as Danone announced it would merge its fresh dairy business in Russia with local firm Unimilk.

Danone said the deal would create a business that generated annual sales of EUR1.5bn (US$1.86bn) and spanned Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Separately, Sergei Plastinin, the head of Wimm-Bill-Dann's board of directors, told Reuters the Russian firm was ready to buy Danone's stake in the business in the wake of the deal with Unimilk.

Danone has an 18% stake in Wimm-Bill-Dann and Plastinin said: "Wimm-Bill-Dann would be happy to buy this stake from Danone if such an opportunity - and thus Danone's desire to sell it - arose. But for now we do not know of such a desire."