AB InBev sells 54.5% stake in African Coke bottling business for $3.15bn

By bne IntelliNews December 22, 2016

Anheuser-Busch InBev will sell a 54.5% stake in Africa's largest Coke bottler to Coca-Cola Company for $3.15bn, the two companies said in a joint statement on December 21.

The deal is expected to help AB InBev in filling its financial coffers after it paid over $97.7bn for the world's second largest brewer SABMiller, which held the Coke bottler stake. Coke said in October it would exercise a right to buy the stake formerly owned by SABMiller. It did not explain why it decided to buy back the stake, but Reuters postulated that "it might be in its best interest to avoid partnering with AB InBev, which has no experience in Africa, and keep the beer giant at arm's length".

According to the statement, Coke agreed to acquire AB InBev’s interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras for an undisclosed amount. Coke, which has operations in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Mayotte and Comoros, plans to hold all of that business temporarily until they can be refranchised to other partners, it said in a statement.

The transactions, which are subject to relevant regulatory and minority approvals, are expected to close by the end of 2017, the statement added.

“We are happy that we have been able to reach this agreement with The Coca-Cola Company in a timely manner and with a satisfactory outcome for all parties,” Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev, said.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement quickly that is in everyone’s best interests,” Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coke explained. “We will move forward with our long-term strategic plan in these important growth markets. We are continuing negotiations with a number of parties who are highly qualified and interested in these bottling territories and look forward to refranchising these territories as soon as practical following regulatory approval.” 

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