China blocks Coca-Cola's acquisition of Huiyuan

by Keith Nunes
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HONG KONG – One day after Yao Jian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce (M.O.C.), said The Coca-Cola Company’s effort to acquire the Huiyuan Juice Group was still being reviewed, it was announced on March 18 that the M.O.C. would block the acquisition under China’s anti-monopoly law. Coca-Cola applied for exemption from the law at the end of 2008.

"We are disappointed, but we also respect the M.O.C.’s decision," said Muhtar Kent, president and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company.

Coca-Cola announced its intent to buy the Huiyuan Juice Group in early September and offered a purchase price of approximately $2.4 billion.

Mr. Kent added the company now will focus on innovating and growing its existing brands in China.

"Our recently opened US$90 million Global Technology and Innovation Centre in Shanghai will play a key role in bringing this innovation to life," Mr. Kent said. "We hold a long-term view of the China market and are committed to ensuring that Chinese consumers have a wide variety of top quality beverage options available to them."

Coca-Cola also recently announced plans to invest $2 billion in China over the next three years in new plant and distribution infrastructure, sales and marketing, and R.&D.

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