As part of the agreement with SABMiller, Coca-Cola is acquiring the Appletiser brands of sparkling apple juice for approximately $260 million.


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — The Coca-Cola Co. sees opportunity in Africa and in apple juice. The Atlanta-based beverage maker has announced a deal with SABMiller P.L.C. and Gutsche Family Investments to combine bottling operations in Southern and East Africa to form Coca-Cola Beverages Africa. The new bottler will serve 12 high-growth markets and account for approximately 40% of all Coca-Cola beverage volumes in Africa.

As part of the transaction, The Coca-Cola Co. will acquire SABMiller’s Appletiser brands of carbonated juice beverages on a global basis, as well as the rights to 19 other non-alcoholic ready-to-drink brands in Africa and Latin America, for an approximate cash consideration of $260 million.

Underpinned by rising personal disposable incomes, a fast-growing population and increasing per capita consumption, Africa represents a significant growth opportunity for the soft drink market. Coca-Cola Beverages Africa will become the brand’s largest bottler on the continent, with more than 30 bottling plants and more than 14,000 employees.

“This will be a substantial business with aggregated pro forma volumes of 41 million hectoliters, net revenue of $2.9 billion and EBITA of $505 million,” said Jamie Wilson, chief financial officer of SABMiller, during a Dec. 2 call with financial analysts to discuss the transaction.

London-based SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer of such brands as Coors and Miller, as well as one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola drinks, operates in more than 80 countries with approximately 70,000 employees.

Gutsche Family Investments owns 80% of Coca-Cola Sabco, a Coca-Cola bottler since 1940 with headquarters in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Coca-Cola Sabco employs approximately 8,000 with operations in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

On completion of the merger, shareholdings in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa will be 57% SABMiller, 31.7% Gutsche Family Investments, and 11.3% The Coca-Cola Co.

The proposed transaction will be completed in two phases. Coca-Cola Beverages Africa will join SABMiller’s South African soft drinks bottling businesses, Amalgamated Beverage Industries and Appletiser, and its soft drink bottling businesses in eight other African countries; Gutsche Family Investments’ bottling interests in Coca-Cola Sabco, including South African bottler Coca-Cola Fortune, and its bottling operations in six other African countries; and The Coca-Cola Co.’s South African soft drinks business in the form of Coca-Cola Canners, Valpre and Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages.

“At present, the Coca-Cola franchises in South Africa are fragmented, and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa will transform this position by accounting for the majority of the Coca-Cola system’s volumes in South Africa,” Mr. Wilson said. “The opportunity to accelerate growth in South Africa is significant due to our ability to leverage a material increase in scale and efficiencies from consolidation of the bottling operations.”

The combined bottler initially will produce and distribute Coca-Cola beverages in nine countries: South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Comoros and Mayotte. At a later date, SABMiller will include its Swaziland soft drinks business and subsidiaries in Botswana and Zambia, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. SABMiller will retain ownership of its non-alcoholic malt beverages in Africa and Latin America as well as its Coca-Cola franchises in El Salvador and Honduras.

Phil Gutsche, chairman of Gutsche Family Investments, will become chairman of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, to be headquartered in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The Coca-Cola Co. has been active on the acquisition front lately as the company seeks to diversify amidst persistent challenges in the soft drink market. In August, the company acquired stake in the Monster Beverage Corp. for approximately $2.15 billion, and this past May, Coca-Cola paid approximately $1.25 billion for a 10% stake in Keurig Green Mountain, which it has since increased to 16%.

“A combined Coca-Cola bottling operation is further evidence of our commitment to Africa, and our firm belief in the tremendous growth prospects that the continent offers,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “As one of the top 10 largest Coca-Cola bottling partners worldwide, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa can leverage the scale, resources, capability and efficiency needed to accelerate Coca-Cola growth and contribute to the economic and social prosperity of African communities.”