Coca-Cola FEMSA of Mexico is to take control of the U.S. soft drink firm's bottling operations in the Philippines in a $688.5 million cash deal, the buyer announced on its website Friday.
The transaction gives the Mexican company, the world's largest Coca-Cola bottler, 51 percent of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., with an option to acquire the remainder within seven years of the deal's close.
It also gives Coca-Cola FEMSA the option to sell the Philippine bottler back to the latter's U.S. parent The Coca-Cola Co. after six years.
"The Philippines' market has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of Coca-Cola products in the region and presents significant opportunities for further growth," Coca-Cola FEMSA said in a briefing paper.
"The Philippines provides a unique opportunity to operate in a country with very attractive economic growth prospects, a private consumption-driven economy, an attractive socio-economic and demographic profile, and a cultural resemblance to Latin America."
The Mexico-based firm is the world's largest publicly-listed bottler of Coca-Cola products, with operations across Central- and South America.
It said it expects the population of the Philippines to grow at twice the rate of Mexico and Brazil for the next 40 years, during which a large middle class in the now still-economically struggling nation would emerge.
It noted that food and non-alcoholic beverages account for 42 percent of private consumption in the Philippines.
The Philippine bottler was acquired by The Coca-Cola Co. from local conglomerate San Miguel Corp. in 2007 for $590 million.
The Coca-Cola FEMSA deal now values the local bottler at $1.35 billion, the Mexican firm said.
The Philippine bottler is expected to post 2012 sales of $1.1 billion, it added.
Coca-Cola FEMSA said it would finance the purchase with short- and medium-term bank loans.
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