Coca-Cola Considers Options for $6 Billion Africa Unit

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Coca-Cola Co. is weighing options for its bottling business in Africa, including a sale or initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The soft drinks giant holds 66.5% of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa and is speaking with potential advisers about its exit options, the people said, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. A sale or IPO of the stake could value the African business at about $6 billion, the people said. This could change depending on the level of buyer interest, the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty they’ll lead to a sale or IPO, according to the people. A representative for the African business referred queries to Coca-Cola, which declined to comment.

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Coca-Cola initially tried to offload the stake in 2017, when it drew interest from the likes of Heineken NV and Coca-Cola HBC AG, Bloomberg News reported at the time. It had acquired the majority holding less than a year earlier, when it paid $3.15 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev out of the African bottling joint venture.

The Coca-Cola Beverages Africa business serves 13 countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana, according to its website. It accounts for about 40% of the Atlanta-based company’s drinks sold on the continent. Coca-Cola concluded a deal earlier this year to increase local shareholding in its South Africa bottling unit.

A year of global Covid-19 lockdowns at restaurants, amusement parks and stadiums have disrupted Coca-Cola’s global businesses. Organic sales fell 3% in the quarter ended Dec. 31 amid ongoing challenges from the pandemic. Still, the drop was less severe than analyst forecasts and Coca-Cola has predicted high-single digit revenue growth for 2021 as more of the world’s population gets vaccinated.

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