Mexico's Coca-Cola Femsa still open to more M&A after Spaipa deal

MONTERREY, Sept 3 Tue Sep 3, 2013 9:09pm EDT

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MONTERREY, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Mexican bottler Coca-Cola Femsa said on Tuesday it is open to more acquisitions, just days after its $1.9 billion purchase of Brazil's Spaipa, its ninth deal in the last two years.

Hector Trevino, chief financial officer of the venture between Coca-Cola Co and Mexican retail and bottling company Femsa, said the company had the financial wherewithal to make new purchases.

He said the company's net debt would be 1.6 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by December, and that it was comfortable with a level of up to twice its EBITDA, giving it the leeway for new acquisitions.

"If we were to face a purchase that requires more than that, we could also use our stock, and if not...we could also do a public stock offering," Trevino told an analysts briefing.

The Spaipa S.A. Industria Brasileira de Bebidas acquisition come on the heels of Coca-Cola Femsa's $448 million purchase of Brazil's Companhia Fulminense de Refigerantes. Some have said the purchases could reflect an effort to diversify away from a potentially less lucrative Mexican market.

Mexico's government is due to present a reform plan on Sunday that is expected to include a tax on fizzy drinks.

It wants to raise the country's paltry tax take by four percentage points and the move is part of a wider agenda that includes energy and telecoms reforms to boost growth in Latin America's second-largest economy.

Coca-Cola Femsa shares closed down 1.3 percent at 163.95 pesos ($12.22) per share.

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