ZIMBABWE – Global beverage giant, Coca-Cola Company, says it is in talks with a potential new partner and expressed its long-term commitment to the Zimbabwean market.

Coca-Cola Company last month reportedly issued a notice to terminate its agreement with Delta Beverages, following the acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev, a bottler of rival Pepsi products.

Delta Beverages was previously a subsidiary of London-headquartered SABMiller before its acquisition by AB InBev.

Company public affairs and communications manager, Meghna Laxman MacDonald, in emailed responses to NewsDay, said Coca-Cola would continue to serve its customers in Zimbabwe, as it had been doing for the past 68 years.

“Our discussions are still at a very early stage so we would not be able to comment on the below at this point in time,” she said.

MacDonald said a recent PriceWaterHouse Coopers study showed that Coca-Cola’s contribution for 2015 was 1,5% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product and 0,9% of the country’s total employment.

“With respect to our partners, we have many options, including a number of existing partners, who are highly qualified and interested in these bottling territories. We cannot comment on specific names until those negotiations are complete,” she added.

Delta shareholder, SABMiller combined with AB InBev, making Delta an associate of AB InBev.

“We will advise the market at the appropriate time of any development in this regard,” Delta Corporation secretary Alex Makamure said.

Delta posted a decline in profit-after-tax to $30,9 million for the half-year ended September 30, 2016, compared to $35,7m in the same period in 2015.

Earning per share were down by 13% to 2,52 cents, while revenue shrunk by 8% to $246,6m.

November 18, 2016; https://www.newsday.co.zw/2016/11/18/coca-cola-talks-potential-new-bottling-partners/