Coca-Cola has made a $2.5bn (£1.4bn) takeover bid for China Huiyan – the country's largest fruit juice produce. If it overcomes a series of potentially troublesome regulatory hurdles, the American group’s bid would be the biggest takeover of a Chinese company by a foreign business. Driven health concerns and by the growing wealth of China’s middle class, fruit juice sales soared by 15% and are expected to repeat the feat this year. Any deal would also be the first serious international transaction to test China’s anti-monopoly law, which came into effect a year ago but has yet to demonstrate the true muscle of the regulators. The sight of a household name such as China Huiyuan falling into the hands of foreigners is likely to add an emotional and nationalistic angle to the regulators’ decision, analysts said. The American group could use the Huiyuan brand to enhance its push into South-East Asia and India, where it continues to fight fiercely with PepsiCo, its great rival. Lawrence Chor, an analyst for Tai Fook Securities, said: “The move is a big surprise to the market and the offer is super-generous. It’s very possible Coca-Cola will leverage the Huiyuan brand, acquire other Chinese juice makers, then boost their output for export.” Coca-Cola’s unexpected bid, which placed a surprisingly high premium of 195% on Huiyuan’s closing price last week, rescued shares in the Beijing-based company from a nearly unbroken bear run in which they have been battered for almost a year and have lost half their value. The shares, which are traded on the Hong Kong exchange, rose by 170% after news of the offer.