WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday cleared the way for PepsiCo Inc. to acquire Quaker Oats Co., voting unanimously to close its antitrust investigation.
The commission took the action after deadlocking 2-2 on the question of whether to have its staff seek a preliminary injunction to stop the deal, said FTC spokeswoman Cathy MacFarlane.
The deal had raised concerns within the federal government about the possibility that it could harm competition because of PepsiCo's ownership of All-Sport, a competing brand to Quaker's Gatorade. But PepsiCo agreed to get rid of All-Sport in order to keep the deal alive.
Quaker Oats makes a long line of other products, including Cap'n Crunch cereal and Aunt Jemima pancake mix.
Late last year, PepsiCo sealed a deal to buy Quaker Oats for about $13.4 billion in stock.
Adding Gatorade to its line of noncarbonated beverages gives PepsiCo the dominant brand in the $2.5 billion sports drink field. The company also sells Aquafina water, Lipton teas and Tropicana juices.
At the time the transaction was sealed, Roger A. Enrico, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer, hailed it as a "terrific moment in the history of PepsiCo and Quaker."
In a statement to stockholders in early December, Enrico said the deal would help PepsiCo expand both revenues and profits more quickly than expected.
Enrico had said earlier that upon completion of the transaction, Steve Reinemund, PepsiCo's president and chief operating officer, would succeed him as chairman and chief executive.
Robert Morrison, Quaker chairman and chief executive, was to be a vice chairman of the combined company.
At least two PepsiCo rivals had eyed Quaker Oats: The board of Coca-Cola Co. abandoned talks to buy Quaker for a reported $15.75 billion late last year and French food conglomerate Danone SA backed away from a possible bid.
In the end, PepsiCo beat out its competitors with an offer that essentially was the same as one rejected by the Chicago-based Quaker Oats in November.
While picking up Gatorade was no doubt the primary thrust of this transaction for PepsiCo, analysts noted at the time the deal was announced that Quaker Oats' food products, which include granola snack bars and rice cakes, complement PepsiCo's line of salty snacks.