December 14, 2012 / 6:16 AM / 5 years ago

Coca-Cola FEMSA buys 51 pct stake in Coke's Philippine bottling unit

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Mexico’s Coca-Cola FEMSA SAB de CV , the world’s largest coke bottler, will buy a 51 percent stake in Coca-Cola Co’s Philippine bottling operations for $688.5 million in cash to expand its presence in the Philippines.

The deal may signal more Asian acquisitions for Coca-Cola FEMSA, a joint venture of Coca-Cola Co and Mexican retailer and beverage company Femsa, as Latin America offers little room for expansion, the company said in October.

“The market in Philippines represents the expansion of our global footprint beyond Latin America, reinforcing our exposure to fast growing economies,” Carlos Salazar Lomelin, Coca Cola FEMSA chief executive officer, said in a statement, adding the Southeast Asian country had healthy growth prospects and a dynamic consumption profile.

Currently Coca Cola FEMSA operates in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.

Coca Cola FEMSA will have the option to acquire the remaining 49 percent of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc (CCBPI) at any time during the seven years following the closing of the deal, the company said in a statement.

Coca-Cola FEMSA said in February that it was considering a controlling stake in CCBPI and had signed an agreement with U.S. beverage giant Coke giving it the first chance to make a deal for the Asian bottler.

In October the company said it expected to close the deal by the end of the year, after the acquisitions of local rivals Grupo Tampico, Grupo CIMSA and Grupo Fomento Queretano, led to a 20 percent jump in third-quarter revenue.

The Philippines operation has 23 production plants and is expected to sell about 530 million unit cases of beverages in 2012.

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