Senate Moves to Resolve Bigi, Pepsi Manufacturers’ Feud

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate yesterday waded into the face-off between Rites Foods Limited and Seven-Up Bottling Company over brand dominance in the soft drink market.

The lawyers of Rites Foods Limited had petitioned the Senate over the alleged threat to the security and existence of Rites Foods Limited located at Ososa, Ogun state by Seven-Up and its Managing Director, Mr. Ziad Maalouf.

The Senate at plenary thereafter referred the petition to its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions headed by Senator Ayo Akinyelure.

The committee yesterday met behind closed-door with the two parties led by Alhaji Adebola Adegunwa (Managing Director) for Rites Foods Limited and Maalouf for Seven-Up.

The committee Chairman, Senator Akinyelure, who spoke yesterday evening to reporters on the outcome of the meeting, stated that the two companies were given two weeks to resolve all issues surrounding the petition and revert to the committee.

“We have been able to sit the two managements together, because we believe that the issue is a matter that can be resolved amicably through the instrument of alternative conflict resolution that will bring more result to the country other than to damage the wholly-owned indigenous company that is competing favourably.

“We decided to hold a closed-door meeting in my office with both parties and at the end of the meeting attended by senior members of the Senate like Senator James Manager who is also a lawyer by profession, we told them that there is no basis for them to be fighting dirty.

“We, therefore, resolved in the committee and gave them two weeks to resolve the matter together and report back to the committee”.

The Senator emphasised that the contentious e-mail said to have emanated from the managing director of Seven-Up was never intended to push Rites Foods Limited out of the soft drink market.

“The interpretation from the e-mail is unfounded as the e-mail has two attachments dwelling on how they could compete favourably and still take their market lead. There was never an intention to say that they want to kill the indigenous company.

“A company that engages 2,000 Nigerians in her employ and the other having a higher figure of 5,000 in her employ, it is our wish as a Senate to see them progress, adding more value to the country than issues that will destroy them”.

Maalouf had in the said e-mail warned his staff to double their efforts to regain its lost place in the market.