WBD gets further investment

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Leading Russian dairy and juice processor Wimm-Bill-Dann has
confirmed that Emerging Markets Growth Fund has raised its stake in
the company to 5.6 per cent.

WBD, which is still reeling from the disappointment it suffered after French food giant Danone withdrew from possible takeover discussions at the end of last year, said that the US-based investment group had upped its stake from from 1.6 per cent.

According to WBD​ press spokeswoman Olga Motlovilova, an official announcement has been made on the New York Stock exchange to confirm that the transaction has taken place.

A Russian newspaper reports that several individual shareholders of WBD have also grouped together to sell 4 per cent of the shares in the company, a move which is likely to be directly linked to the investment by EMGF. The newspaper report also emphasised the fact that the shares had not been sold by any key members of the executive board.

Analysts believe that the move can only have positive implications for the group, following the 32 per cent decline in share price after Danone announced its withdrawal from discussions.

In recent years the company has been investing heavily, both to increase its foothold in the Russian and CIS markets and to modernise existing facilities. However, such investments have impacted recent financial results and in order to continue with the investment programme securing outside investment has become a major prerogative for the company.

This week the company also announced its full year sales results by volume for the year 2003. The company said that sales in the dairy, juice and mineral water had risen 4.3 per cent year-on-year, amounting to 1,484.5 thousand tonnes.

By market segment, juice sales volumes amounted to 473.7 thousand tons, demonstrating a slight decrease (0.6 per cent) over the year 2002. In the dairy segment, sales volumes were 6.3 per cent higher than in the last year, at 1,005.9 thousand tons. Mineral water sales, which commenced in the middle of 2003, amounted to 4.9 thousand tons.

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