Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has remained tight-lipped over reports that it has signed a protocol of intent to buy 100% of Baltimor Holding, the parent of Russian ketchup giant Baltimor.

According to Russian daily Kommersant, the two groups are expected to officially announce the deal later this week.

Citing sources close to the negotiations, the paper reported that the deal is awaiting approval from Baltimor’s creditors, including UniCredit Bank and VTB Bank.

Baltimor Holding owes a total of around RUB800m (US$24m) to Russian banks, which must approve the restructuring of the group’s debt before the sale can proceed.

When contacted by just-food, Unilever declined to comment on the report. However, a spokesperson did underline the group’s commitment to expanding in central and eastern Europe.

“Our strategic priorities are developing and emerging markets, personal care and vitality. CEE would obviously fit into the first of these,” the spokesperson said.

About half of Russian ketchup sales are under the Baltimor brand.