PepsiCo Inc. said it fully endorses the proposed merger of Whitman Corporation and PepsiAmericas, Inc., two major Pepsi-Cola bottlers. The bottlers issued a joint announcement of their merger plans earlier today."We view this merger as great news," said PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Roger Enrico. "Combining Whitman and PepsiAmericas will create a larger, stronger and more effective bottler, and it is consistent with our strategy to encourage consolidation in our bottling network. In general, larger bottlers can operate more efficiently, compete more effectively against other big bottlers and, most important, better serve the needs of our rapidly consolidating retail customers.""Bob Pohlad will be an excellent leader for Whitman," Enrico said. "His family has a long and illustrious history in the Pepsi system, and Bob has proven a gifted operator with a tremendous commitment to the business. I expect he'll do great things for Whitman and continue to be a great asset to the Pepsi system."PepsiCo Inc. is one of the world's leading consumer products companies, with 1999 revenues of $20 billion. Its principal businesses are Frito-Lay snacks, Pepsi-Cola beverages and Tropicana juices.