Sunday, December 29, 2002

What's the Buzz?

P&G has its eye on the juice

Among the dozens of businesses and financial nuances that Procter & Gamble Co. chairman A.G. Lafley covered in New York two weeks ago, one brand clearly is being watched closely by the man in the corner office: Sunny Delight.

Asked about P&G's snacks and beverage business by a Wall Street analyst, Mr. Lafley didn't mince words.

"We hold those businesses to the same (financial standards)," he said. "Coffee beats them. Juice drinks do not, and they're under the gun trying to get out of a strategic dilemma."

Mr. Lafley pointed out that the unit, based in Cincinnati, has some promising technologies for nutrient-enriched drinks. P&G was unable to finalize a deal with Coca-Cola Co. that would have included those patents. Without better financial performance, anything is possible, he said.

"We're open to working with anyone, including longtime competitors, if we think we can create a strategic opportunity," he said.

- Cliff Peale

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