Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), the continent’s largest Coca-Cola bottler, will add to its operations with the 100% acquisition of Kenya’s Equator Bottlers for an undisclosed amount.

Equator Bottles is Kenya’s third-largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola. Established in 1966, the group distributes Coca-Cola’s range of soft drinks in seven counties in western Kenya — Kakamega, Busia, Siaya, Vihiga, Bomet, Kericho and Kisumu — where it serves about 6.5-million consumers through nearly 20,000 outlets.

CCBA’s MD for the international division, Jacques Vermeulen, said on Thursday that the acquisition made "perfect sense" for the group as well as for consumers in Kenya.

"We see a compelling long-term growth opportunity for nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages in Kenya and we believe that this is a more efficient model that supports the growth potential," said Vermeulen.

"This acquisition of Equator will allow us to share best practice and improve our service for both the formal and informal markets and at the same time encourage greater innovation. It will also allow us to achieve enhanced efficiencies, which, in turn, will mean an improved and more seamless service for customers," he said.

Coca-Cola’s African bottling operations have been in restructuring discussions since 2014, when Alan Clark, former SABMiller CEO, announced plans to restructure SABMiller’s African Coca-Cola bottlers. CCBA was formed less than two years ago through the combination of African nonalcoholic ready-to-drink bottling interests of SABMiller plc, The Coca-Cola Company and Gutsche Family Investments.

CCBA produces and distributes about 40% of all Coca-Cola beverage volumes in Africa and is the 10th-largest Coca-Cola bottler worldwide.

Equator Bottlers GM Enrique Huerta said the acquisition by CCBA was a "significant milestone" and presented "tremendous opportunities for growth".

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