Blog: Dean BestAmid M&A speculation, in India, senior PepsiCo exec joins Mondelez

Dean Best | 26 July 2013

PepsiCo this week dismissed calls for the company to combine with Mondelez International but, in India, the former head of the cola and crisps giant has moved to take senior roles at the Cadbury owner.

Manu Anand, previously chairman and CEO of PepsiCo India, will next month become president of Mondelez's business in India and south Asia and MD of its local Cadbury India unit.

It emerged in June Anand had left PepsiCo and it came as something of a surprise. He had spent almost two decades at the Lay's owner and had been in charge of the company's Indian arm for two years. PepsiCo reportedly said at the time Anand had decided to join another company - and yesterday Mondelez confirmed a man it said had "extensive snacking experience" was joining the business.

PepsiCo says it is the "largest food and beverage business" in India and this week revealed organic sales had increased at a rate in the "mid-teens" in the second quarter of the year, although ther have been recent reports of stiff competition from Coca-Cola in beverages.

Anand is joining what is the largest confectionery company in India. Mondelez describes India more broadly as "one of the most critical markets" for its business and the snacks giant is working to "fortify and expand" its operations across the emerging markets.

He joins a business that is being investigated over tax, although Mondelez told just-food the change at the top was not related to the probe. It said Cadbury India had more than triped its sales in the time current regional boss Anand Kripalu had been with the business and added: "As we reviewed internal options, Anand expressed his desire to move on to new challenges outside the business. People movements are a natural part of any dynamic, fast-growing business environment, and ours is no exception."

Proponents of a combination between PepsiCo and Mondelez would no doubt argue the benefits of a deal could be most obviously seen in India, where it would create a titan in the snacks sector and provide the opportunity for both companies to potentially boost margins through synergies in distribution.

However, for now, PepsiCo has insisted a deal would be "too risky" and claimed its sights are set firmly on smaller transactions.

In the meantime, one senior executive has swapped his packet of Lay's for a bar of Dairy Milk.

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