(AFP) DRAGOMIRESTI, Romania —
PepsiAmericas, the second biggest bottler of Pepsi drinks, said Tuesday it had opened its biggest plant in Europe near the Romanian capital Bucharest."Up to now 85 million dollars have been invested in this plant and we plan to invest 65 million more in the second phase," due for completion at the beginning of 2011, PepsiAmericas Romania chief executive Mike Holmes told a news conference."This is a testimony of our confidence in the Romanian economy," he said.The capacity of the 30,000 square-metre plant at Dragomiresti, on the outskirts of the capital, will grow from 15 million cases annually to 60 million in 2011, which will boost the group's local production capacity by 35 percent.
The company admitted its sales went down in the first half of 2009, in line with the crisis-hit Romanian economy, but stressed it was "confident in the ability to overcome all hurdles.""The market is no longer growing by 20 percent or 30 percent as in previous years but Romania is still a good place to do business," Holmes said.The plant, the group's third in Romania, currently employs 70 people and plans to hire some 230 more by the time the second phase is completed."The local economy will benefit from this investment which will create jobs and related services, not to mention the taxes that will be paid," Dragomiresti's mayor Gheorghe Socol said.Romania, whose economy shrank by 7.6 percent on the year in the first half of 2009, saw foreign direct investments drop by 42.9 percent to 2.89 billion euros (4.13 billion dollars) in the same period.