H J Heinz Company has taken a majority stake in Petrosoyuz, a leading Russian maker of ketchup, condiments and sauces.

Heinz's European business has completed the transaction through the formation of a new joint venture company to market ketchup and other products in Russia and neighbouring Eastern European nations.

"This joint venture agreement accelerates Heinz's growth in Eastern Europe, now the largest market for ketchup and condiments in Europe," said Heinz chairman, president and CEO William R. Johnson. "Heinz will have a clear majority stake in Petrosoyuz, a privately-held St. Petersburg-based food company that holds Russia's number-one or number-two positions in mayonnaise, ketchup and margarine," he said.

Petrosoyuz has annual revenue of approximately US$140m, more than 2,000 employees and three manufacturing plants in St. Petersburg, Otradnoe and Ivanovo. Those factories and the Heinz baby food factory in Georgievsk will become part of the joint venture company.

"This joint venture is consistent with our European strategy to build our core businesses in the rapidly emerging markets of Eastern Europe," said Heinz Europe president and CEO Joe Jimenez. "Additionally, it will give Heinz access to local market understanding that will allow us to expand sales of other popular Heinz brands and products throughout Russia. In order to achieve this, the co-founders of Petrosoyuz, Mark Budyko and Dmitry Filatov, will continue to provide their leadership and market knowledge, as co-Managing Directors of the joint venture."

"This joint venture with Heinz is a win-win for all parties involved. Heinz is an international player with a great track record for manufacturing and marketing world-class products," said Petrosoyuz principal Mark Budyko.