SOUTH AFRICA – Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola announced on Wednesday it has agreed to buy SABMiller’s 54.5% stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) from AB InBev for $3.15bn.
Coca-Cola and AB InBev said in a joint statement that they had agreed to the transfer of AB InBev’s 54.5% stake in CCBA to The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC).
SABMiller formerly owned the stake before the mega beer acquisition that saw SAB merge with AB InBev.
CCBA was created in November 2014 by a merger of Coca-Cola’s South African operation with SABMiller’s non-alcoholic Southern African operations and Coca-Cola Sabco.
The combined companies have operations in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Mayotte and Comoros.
Coke and AB InBev said they have also reached a separate agreement in principle for Coca-Cola to acquire AB InBev’s interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras for an undisclosed amount.
The transactions are subject to regulatory and minority approvals and are expected to close by the end of 2017, the companies said.
Coca-Cola said it planned to hold all operations temporarily until they can be refranchised to other bottling partners.
Some of the bottling partners that have often been mentioned as possible partners in CCBA include Coca-Cola Hellenic AG (Coca-Cola HBC), Coca-Cola European Partners, Equatorial Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Icecek.
The deal comes barely two months after Coca-Cola said it would exercise its change of control clause and acquire SABMiller’s stake in CCBA from AB InBev after the mega beer merger closed in October.
The soft drink giant appears to have gone a step further, buying out SABMiller’s former stakes (now held by AB InBev) in other African operations not part of CCBA, as well as bottling operations in El Salvador and Honduras.
There have been rumours that Coke might be AB InBev’s next acquisition target, and Coke has been doing everything possible to stay out of the beer giant’s cross-hairs.