Coca-Cola HBC open to further acquisitions in Africa, says Chief Executive, Dimitris Lois

Coca-Cola HBC, the bottler of Coca-Cola products in Nigeria, said on Friday it was open to further acquisitions in Africa if the right opportunity became available, its chief executive, Dimitris Lois said.

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal, last Tuesday, removed the last hurdle to the long awaited merger of SABMiller’s South African soft drinks operation with that of Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola SABCO to create what would be known as Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

However, with the pending acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev, sources close to the soft drinks giant have hinted that Coke may decide to sell SABMiller’s stake to another bottler to prevent becoming part of the acquisition. The sources say Coke has a change-of-ownership clause in the deal (right to buy SABMiller’s stake in the new entity). Potential new partners include Coca-Cola HBC, Coca-Cola FEMSA and Coca-Cola Equatorial.

The chief executive of Coca-Cola HBC, Dimitris Lois, who has extensive experience operating in Nigeria, said it was too early to comment on the impact of these deals, but in response to a question added that if “the right strategic opportunity” were to come along, it would “certainly (be) something we would consider.”

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