Coke, Coke Femsa to buy Unilever's soy beverage business
(Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co (KO.N: Quote) and its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa (KOFL.MX: Quote), said they agreed to buy Unilever's (ULVR.L: Quote) AdeS soy-based beverage unit for about $575 million as the soft-drinks giant bolsters its portfolio of healthy and non-fizzy drinks.
AdeS, which is known for its soy-milk and fruit-juice mixed beverages, had revenue of $284 million in 2015. It sold 56.2 million unit cases in the same period.
Founded in 1988 in Argentina, AdeS' drinks are sold in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia, the companies said in a statement.
Coke has been investing in building its non-carbonated drinks portfolio and is expanding beyond North America, its biggest market, where sales have been falling due to a consumer shift towards healthier beverages.
The company bought a 40 percent stake in Nigerian juice maker Chi Ltd in January and spent $400 million to buy multi-grain drinks maker China Culiangwang Beverages Holdings Ltd 0904.HK in April last year.
Coke, whose non-fizzy brands include vitaminwater, Powerade and Minute Maid, said AdeS will be part of the non-carbonated beverage business that Coca-Cola Femsa shares with Coca-Cola in its franchise territories.
For Unilever, the sale is the latest in a string of divestitures aimed at moving away from slow-growing food brands in order to focus more on personal care businesses, which have higher margins and higher growth prospects.
The Anglo-Dutch company has sold businesses including Slim-Fast diet products, Ragu pasta sauces and Bifi meat snacks.
Coke shares were up slightly on the New York Stock Exchange, while those of Unilever were up 1.2 percent on the London Stock Exchange. Coke Femsa's shares were up 1.3 percent on the Mexican Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru and Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D'Silva)
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