As Coca-Cola Co. takes over Coca-Cola Enterprises' North American business, here are obvious questions:
Q. How many employees does Coke now have in the Atlanta area?
A. Before the deal, Coca-Cola Co. had about 4,000 local employees and Coca-Cola Enterprises had roughly 3,800. After the deal, CCE will have only about 140 employees at its headquarters, with most of the rest transferring to various divisions of Coca-Cola. So by that formula, Coca-Cola should have about 7,660 Atlanta-area employees today.
Q. Will there be job cuts?
A. Eventually, yes, though Wall Street analysts caution that the $280 million in cost savings from the deal will not all come from layoffs. The company has not said how much of the cuts will be lost jobs, but has said it expects "minimal impact" on employees this year. Coca-Cola also says some new jobs will be created and employees should know their roles in the new organization as soon as possible.
Q. Will my favorite drinks still be available?
A. If all goes well, consumers will probably not notice any immediate change. Coca-Cola wants to streamline the way it gets drinks on the shelves and into soda fountains, working behind the scenes to simplify its interactions with retailers. Popular drinks should still be distributed. However, Coca-Cola also wants more flexibility to put different packages and beverages into the market, tailoring the store-by-store offerings more quickly. Controlling a large portion of its bottling system might allow it to do so.
Q. Will prices go way up?
A. If anything, price cuts on soft drinks have been the talk of the industry lately, as companies including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo tried to boost volume over the summer. Now, analysts expect the big beverage companies to keep prices "rational," meaning roughly in line with inflation.
Q. Is CCE still an American company?
A. Thanks largely to tax and stock-listing implications, CCE's headquarters will remain in Atlanta. However, the vast majority of its remaining employees (about 13,000) and all of its sales (roughly $7.3 billion in the applicable European territories in 2009) will be in Europe. The company is still listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol, CCE. But chief executive John Brock has said the company could pursue a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange or NYSE Euronext.
Q. How will the deal affect my holdings of Coca-Cola stock?
A. Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Greenberg predicts that it will be a positive for Coca-Cola's shares, providing a "considerable upgrade" to Coke's prospects in the U.S. However, some have raised concerns about how the low-margin, high-cost bottling operations could change Coke's growth trajectory in the short term. Coke's stock has risen about 7 percent since the deal was announced in late February.
Q. I am currently a CCE shareholder. What does the deal mean for me?
A. According to the terms of the agreement, CCE shareholders as of close of business on Aug. 24 get a payout of $10 per share. They also get rights to one share in "new CCE" for each share they held in old CCE. UBS analyst Kaumil Gajrawala points out that CCE will also be able start repurchasing its own shares soon, and might be able to buy back $1 billion of its stock by the end of 2011.
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