AUBURN – Local bottling company Seltzer and Rydholm is being sold to the soda giant it has served for decades, company officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Auburn plant, which employs 250 people, is being sold to Pepsi Bottling Group. Details about the sale were not released. However, the Pepsi group has been known to pay more than $100 million for bottling outfits.

“They signed a letter of intent to buy us,” said Cynthia Crockett, vice president and treasurer of Seltzer and Rydholm. “There are not a lot of people in a position to do that. Pepsi is.”

The deal between Pepsi and the Auburn bottling company on Merrow Road is expected to be closed in the fall. Owned and operated by the Rydholm family for more than 80 years, the business is made up of a production, distribution and sales facility in Auburn.

The business also operates distribution centers in Portland and Augusta. Seltzer and Rydholm serves all or portions of 11 counties in southern and central Maine.

“Everybody knows how important Seltzer and Rydholm has been to us,” said Auburn Mayor Norm Guay. “The fact that it’s changing hands will have an impact.”

Pepsi Bottling Group is the world’s largest manufacturer, seller and distributor of Pepsi-Cola beverages with operations in the United States, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

In 2003, Pepsi Bottling paid $104 million in cash and debt to acquire three bottling plants in the Northeast and Canada. That year, it earned $416 million in net income. The Somers, N.Y.-based company has 66,000 employees and is 41 percent owned by Pepsi Co.

From her Auburn home Tuesday night, Crockett said the decision to sell the company was not an easy one.

“I’ve been there for 48 years,” she said. “I have mixed emotions about it.”

Guay was just learning about the sale Tuesday night. He said he will explore how the sale of the locally owned business might affect the community.

Crockett could not say how the sale would effect Seltzer and Rydholm’s employees or if there would be layoffs or a need for new employees. Spokespersons from Pepsi Bottling Group were not immediately available for comment.


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