Three European Coca-Cola beverages bottlers have agreed to merge, creating the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler company. The move is taking place in an effort to cut costs and adapt to changing consumer demands for their products.
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Coca-Cola Iberian Partners (CCIP) and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG (CCAEG) will combine into a new Western European bottler—known as Coca-Cola European Partners Plc. It will serve more than 300 million consumers in 13 countries.
“The creation of a larger, unified Coca-Cola bottling partner in Western Europe represents an important step in our global system’s evolution,” explains Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “We continue to adapt our business model to innovate, invest and grow along with the changing demands of the marketplace. With the strong leadership that will be assembled from across the three organizations, Coca-Cola European Partners will be well positioned to deliver better and more effective service to customers throughout Western Europe and drive profitable growth across multiple beverage categories.”
The new company will operate more than 50 bottling plants and employ approximately 27,000 associates in Andorra, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. The combined company will operate in the four largest markets for nonalcoholic, ready-to-drink beverages in Western Europe—Germany, Spain, Great Britain and France.
Coca-Cola anticipates the combined company will have annual net revenues of approximately $12.6 billion. The new company will be incorporated in the UK, with its headquarters in London. Coca-Cola European Partners is expected to realize annual run-rate pre-tax synergies of about $350 to $375 million within three years after the merger.
Coca-Cola Enterprises’ shareowners will own 48 percent, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners’ shareowners will own 34 percent, and The Coca-Cola Company will own 18 percent of Coca-Cola European Partners’ shares on a fully diluted basis. The company will be publicly traded on the Euronext Amsterdam, the New York Stock Exchange and the Madrid Stock Exchange. Sol Daurella, executive chairwoman of Coca-Cola Iberian Partners, will become chairwoman of the new company, while John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, will serve as CEO. Both will be members of the board of directors. (Fifteen additional members, the majority of whom will be independent, non-executive directors, will serve on the initial board of directors of Coca-Cola European Partners.)
“As the single-largest shareowner in this new business, Coca-Cola Enterprises will play a strong strategic role in Coca-Cola European Partners, while continuing to be close to our country, business, local consumers and customers,” Daurella states. “Combining our unique expertise in the on-premise channels, targeted marketing experience and operational excellence with the skills of CCE and CCEAG, we will drive growth in Western Europe.”
Damian Gammell, currently beverage group president and CEO of Anadolu Efes and a previous CEO of CCEAG, will become COO of Coca-Cola European Partners. Manik Jhangiani, currently the CFO of CCE, will be Coca-Cola European Partners’ CFO, and Víctor Rufart, currently general manager of CCIP, will serve as chief integration officer. Coca-Cola says other members of the new executive team will be announced before the closing of the transaction.
“The creation of Coca-Cola European Partners will build on each bottler’s capabilities to create more efficient operations in its respective markets across Western Europe,” Brock explains. “We look forward to bringing together our world-class supply chain and sales team with the distinct strengths offered by CCIP and CCEAG to capture additional growth opportunities in each market.”
The boards of directors of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and The Coca-Cola Company have approved the transaction. However, the proposed merger is subject to approval by Coca-Cola Enterprises shareowners, the receipt of regulatory clearances and other customary conditions. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.