AFRICA – Coca-Cola Company and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) have announced that they have completed the transition of AB InBev’s majority interest in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA).
The transition, which was first announced in December 2016, makes The Coca-Cola Company the controlling shareowner of CCBA, which is the biggest bottler in Africa.
The deal involves CCBA’s operations in South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mayotte and Comoros Islands.
The deal closing follows the completion of a number of regulatory approvals across the territories, in which CCBA operates, chief of which is the approval by South African Government and the South African competition authorities, based on several conditions.
These include commitments to keep jobs in the merged unit and maintaining South Africa as its key location and base in Africa.
CCBA was formed in 2016 through the combination of African non-alcoholic ready-to-drink bottling interests of SABMiller PLC, The Coca-Cola Company and Gutsche Family Investments.
AB InBev later acquired SABMiller in the biggest food industry merger ever, and reached an agreement to transition AB InBev’s 54.5% equity stake in CCBA to Coca-Cola.
The Coca-Cola Company plans to hold its controlling interest in CCBA temporarily until it is refranchised. The Coca-Cola Company will account for CCBA as a discontinued operation.
“The Coca-Cola Company recognizes the value of driving CCBA’s operations from South Africa and recommitted that CCBA will remain incorporated and tax-resident in South Africa, and its head office will also remain in South Africa,” says the company in a statement
According to Coca-Cola, talks are underway to acquire AB InBev’s interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras, which had not been covered by the CCBA deal.
The Company’s says that the process to refranchise CCBA is open to South African and international prospective partners who have the necessary skill, capacity and commitment to drive it’s vision for CCBA.
Possible takers of the stake have been rumored to include Coca-Cola Hellenic AG and Coca-Cola European Partners, both active as Coca-Cola bottlers in Europe.
Coca-Cola Hellenic AG is also a major bottler in several developing markets, including in Nigeria, where its subsidiary, Nigerian Bottling Company, the largest bottler in Africa’s most populated country.
“Partner selection will take into consideration a number of factors, including a commitment to maintain South Africa as an anchor geography for the bottler in driving the development of CCBA on the continent and have a positive impact in South Africa and the rest of the continent.”