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Coca-Cola buys AB InBev Africa unit for $3.2 billion

Bloomberg

Coca-Cola Co. will pay $3.15 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev out of an African bottling joint venture after the Budweiser brewer’s takeover of the U.S. beverage company’s partner in the region.

Wednesday’s announcement comes just over two months after the companies said they were in negotiations following AB InBev’s completion of the takeover of SABMiller. Coca-Cola also agreed to buy AB InBev’s interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras for an undisclosed sum.

For Coca-Cola, the acquisition of AB InBev’s 54.5 percent stake in the venture provides a firm footing in a region that is probably one of the last where it can grow its core soft drinks products, said Sasha Naryshkine, an analyst at Johannesburg-based money manager Vestact. The transaction continues AB InBev’s asset pruning following its purchase of SABMiller, coming only days after the brewer agreed to sell its central and eastern European assets to Asahi Group Holdings.

“Considering the speed that this deal was done I would expect AB InBev to continue selling non-core assets quickly,” Naryshkine said. “It’s a good price for Coca-Cola.”

The U.S. drinks maker is looking to speed up the refranchising of its bottling operations as it seeks to reduce exposure to facilities that are more capital-intensive and lower-margin.

Consumer and retail companies reported $306 billion in mergers this year, a 45 percent decline on the $556 billion in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. AB InBev agreed to buy SABMiller for about $100 billion, a deal included in last year’s figures.

Rothschild advised Coca Cola on the bottling deal and Lazard advised AB InBev.

The deal with AB InBev is subject to relevant regulatory and minority approvals and is expected to close by the end of 2017, the companies said. It was only this year that South Africa’s Competition Tribunal gave approval for SABMiller and Coca-Cola to combine their drinks companies’ bottling operations on the continent, ending an 18-month process.

AB InBev shares were little changed at 1:52 p.m. in Brussels trading.

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