Pepsico's SodaStream to open manufacturing plant in Gaza

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel-based SodaStream, a carbonated drink-machine maker bought this year by Pepsico PEP.O for $3.2 billion, is establishing a manufacturing plant in the Gaza Strip, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Most Palestinians in Gaza, a territory controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas, live in poverty. The economy there is stifled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory and disputes with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Globes business conference that the company’s factory in Israel has succeeded with a mixed workforce of Jews and Arabs, and they are looking to expand that.

Their new project, Birnbaum said, sitting on stage next to Pepsico CEO Ramon Laguarta, was to establish a manufacturing facility in Gaza.

“We want the people of Gaza to have jobs, real jobs, because where there is prosperity, there can be peace,” he said.

He did not discuss any other details of the planned facility.

(Fixes company stock symbol in text)

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen