Private equity firm ECP takes stake in Algerian Pepsi bottler

DUBAI, March 14 Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:00am EDT

DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Africa-focused investor Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) is buying 33 percent of Atlas Bottling Corp, an Algerian firm which bottles PepsiCo Inc's drinks, it said on Friday.

ECP is buying the stake from Group Mehri, a prominent Algerian business family which owns Atlas, ECP said in a statement, without specifying how much it would spend on the acquisition.

The investment is part of an $80 million expansion plan at Atlas, which will use the money from ECP and debt from commercial banks to increase its bottling capacity, build a new production site and develop new product categories, ECP said.

Outside the oil and gas sector, foreign investment in Algeria's economy has been limited by bureaucratic obstacles and legal restrictions but the authorities are now showing signs of opening the largely state-controlled economy up to wider foreign investment. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Pravin Char, Greg Mahlich)

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