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Scramble to bid for Coca-Cola majority stake

Companies
Johannsburg – Heineken, Coca-Cola HBC and Castel Group are among companies that have bid for a majority stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bids for the unit, Africa’s largest bottler of the soft drink, came in last week, the people said, asking not to be named as the details were not yet public.

Coca-Cola Company agreed to buy a 54.5 percent stake in the Africa venture from Anheuser-Busch InBev for $3.15 billion (R43.11 billion) in December, as part of asset sales linked to the takeover of SABMiller.

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“While we are currently having exploratory discussions with potential partners, including existing partners who are highly qualified and interested in these bottling territories, we cannot comment on any potential partners while this process is under way,” said Kent Landers, a Coca-Cola spokesperson.

Read also: AB InBev sells out of Coca-Cola for R44bn

Representatives for Heineken and Coca-Cola HBC declined to comment.

Castel did not respond to requests. Coca-Cola HBC is among several bottlers for the soda, which are separate from Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola, which also acquired AB InBev’s interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras for an undisclosed amount, said at the time that it would refranchise the operations.

The US beverage giant is seeking to reduce exposure to facilities that are more capital intensive and lower margin.

BLOOMBERG & REUTERS

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