Mexico's Alsea takes over Starbucks stores in Argentina and Chile

MEXICO CITY, July 17 Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:25am EDT

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MEXICO CITY, July 17 (Reuters) - Mexico restaurant operator Alsea has reached an agreement with Starbucks Corp to take full equity control of the world's biggest coffee chain's stores in Argentine and Chile, Alsea said on Wednesday.

The company said in a statement it bought 82 percent of Starbucks' Chilean operation, and the 18 percent it did not own of Starbucks' Argentine business, to own 100 percent of both. The statement did not say how much Alsea would pay.

Alsea said it will operate 66 stores in Argentina, and 44 in Chile along with the 382 it controls in Mexico, all of them carrying the Starbucks brand name.

Chief Executive Officer Fabian Gosselin said in the statement that full ownership in Argentina and Chile would "add profitability to our consolidated results."

Alsea said it hopes to open 130 stores in Argentina and Chile in the next five years.

The company took full control of Starbucks' Mexican stores in April, agreeing, as part of the deal, to open 50 new stores in the next five years.

Alsea in October said it plans to invest $75 million opening 170 new stores in Mexico, Starbucks' fastest-growing Latin American market, over the next three years.

Shares of Alsea, which also operates restaurant chains including PF Chang's, Domino's Pizza, and Burger King in Mexico, were up 2.72 percent at 33.22 pesos in early trading.

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