Coca-Cola Bottler Equatorial Weigh Up Mergers in Africa
Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Co. is considering merging with several independent bottlers in African countries, according to people with knowledge of the matter, marking the latest consolidation of the companies that bottle the famed soda brand.
Equatorial Coca-Cola, which is owned by Spain’s Cobega Invest SL and based in Barcelona, may merge with bottlers in African countries where it doesn’t currently operate to expand its footprint on the continent, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Those countries could include Nigeria, where Coca-Cola HBC AG handles the bottling of Coca-Cola, or Egypt, the people said. Equatorial Coca-Cola may also look at smaller bottlers in countries where it already has a presence, including Morocco and Algeria, the people said.
Equatorial Coca-Cola has a presence in 13 countries in North and West Africa including Ghana, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Morocco and Gambia. It had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about 70 million euros ($78 million) last year, on sales of more than 500 million euros, one of the people said.
Cobega is the investment arm of the Daurella family, one of the richest in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia. Cobega is also the controlling shareholder of Coca-Cola Iberian Partners SA, which on Aug. 6 agreed to merge with Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG and Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. to create Europe’s largest independent bottler for the famed soda brand, with a presence in 13 countries and 2015 revenue of about $12.6 billion.
Africa has already witnessed a wave of consolidation between Coca-Cola’s bottlers. Last year, SABMiller Plc and Coca-Cola Co. agreed to combine bottling operations for non-alcoholic beverages in southern and eastern Africa, forming the continent’s largest Coca-Cola bottler with annual revenue of almost $3 billion.