Coca Cola is spending at least $3 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev’s interest African and Latin American bottlers. (AP Photo)

Coca-Cola buying bottlers in Africa as part of global re-tooling

Coca Cola is spending at least $3 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev’s interest African and Latin American bottlers, but it plans to sell them again to new owners as part of an ongoing restructuring of its operations.

Coca-Cola has been shedding bottling operations as it re-tools to focus on rolling out new types of soft drinks and other beverages.

Last quarter Coca-Cola announced it had struck six deals to sell bottling businesses in North America and completed transactions on four more.

In one deal announced Wednesday, the Atlanta-based company said it is paying almost $3.2 billion for AB InBev’s 54.5 percent stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

That company has operations in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Mayotte and Comoros.

In the other deal, Coke said it has reached an “agreement in principle” to buy AB InBev’s stake in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras. Coca-Cola did not disclose the terms of that deal.

Coca-Cola said it plans to hold the businesses temporarily and is negotiating with potential new owners.

“We will move forward with our long-term strategic plan in these important growth markets,” said Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent. “We are continuing negotiations with a number of parties who are highly qualified and interested in these bottling territories and look forward to refranchising these territories as soon as practical.”

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