Shareholders in bottler Coca-Cola Amatil back takeover bid
Shareholders in bottler Coca-Cola Amatil back takeover bid

CC Amatil shareholders back $9.8bn takeover

Coca-Cola Amatil shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the $13.50 per share takeover by Coca-Cola European Partners.

A meeting of shareholders to approve the deal was told proxy votes already cast were 97.61 per cent in support of the takeover.

The next stop is court approval, which will see Coca-Cola European Partners emerge as one of the biggest suppliers to the supermarket, grocery and convenience store sector in Australia as it takes ownership of a large and diverse beverages portfolio that spans soft drinks, beer and cider to iced coffee, bottled water and juices.

For leading supermarkets Woolworths and Coles, it gives them a new global supplier to deal with and a new relationship to navigate as Coca-Cola European Partners becomes gatekeeper to some of the most important brands on the shelf including Coca-Cola.

According to proxy votes revealed by Coca-Cola Amatil chairman Ilana Atlas on Friday, 253.511 million shares were in support of the takeover bid, representing 62.48 per cent of shareholders and 97.61 per cent of shares voted. There were 3.71m shares cast as open, or 1.43 per cent of shares, and just 2.5m shares against the bid, representing 0.96 per cent of voted shares.

The vote easily passed the benchmark of at least 75 per cent of shares and more than 50 per cent of shareholders needed the takeover to proceed.

Coca-Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins supported the takeover. Picture: Ryan Osland
Coca-Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins supported the takeover. Picture: Ryan Osland

Coca-Cola Amatil's largest shareholder, The Coca-Cola Company, based in Atlanta, USA, did not vote its 30 per cent stake in the bottler, with only independent shareholders voting on the takeover proposal.

The takeover is valued at $9.8 billion and once the deal is approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales it will end 117 years of corporate history for Coca-Cola Amatil in Australia.

It hands Coca-Cola European Partners a bulging portfolio of beverage brands including the flagship Coca-Cola brand as well as leading brands in bottled water, coffee, cider, iced coffee and juices spread across operations in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

Coca-Cola Amatil began life in 1904 as British Tobacco Company Limited and later expanded into packaging before a pivot into the Australian food and beverage industry in 1963, soon after the purchase of Coca-Cola Bottlers in Perth. Further acquisitions and bottling deals saw it become the lead Coca-Cola bottler in the country as well as buying the local bottling rights in New Zealand and Indonesia.

Now it will all be handed to European investors.

 

 

The takeover has moved remarkably quickly despite the size of the deal.

It was only in October that Coca-Cola European Partners launched its cash $12.75 per share takeover bid, which won over the support of the independent Coca-Cola Amatil board as well as chairman Ilana Atlas and chief executive Alison Watkins.

That bid valued Coca-Cola Amatil at $9.3bn.

The takeover manoeuvring was complicated by the fact that US parent, the Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Company, was the biggest shareholder in Coca-Cola Amatil as well as a major shareholder in the acquirer, Coca-Cola European Partners.

There was some early resistance from other shareholders, and in February Coca-Cola Amatil shareholders, who had dug in over what they viewed as a low-ball takeover from Coca-Cola European Partners, secured an extra $379m after the European bottler upped its October takeover offer to $13.50 per share, to value the deal at $9.8bn.

It will now cement Coca-Cola European Partners' position as the world's biggest bottler of Coca-Cola by revenue. The company reported sales of €12bn ($20bn) in the 2019 calendar year.

 

 

Coca-Cola European Partners will also find itself owner of not just the flagship Coca-Cola brand in the region, but also a bulging portfolio of other drinks and beverages that have been gathered under the Coca-Cola Amatil standard and drawn from decades of acquisitions.

Coca-Cola Amatil owns the Grinders coffee business, bought more than 15 years ago, as well as a number of tea brands. In iced coffee it has the Barista Bro. brand, while there are the Mother and Monster energy drinks, and its juice brands include Goulburn Valley and Keri Juice. There are also key water brands led by Mount Franklin, Deep Spring and Neverfail. It also once owned fruit cannery SPC.

Former Coca-Cola Amatil chief executive Terry Davis spearheaded a push into alcohol for the soft drink bottler, and its distribution deals include a range of whiskies, rums and bourbons including Canadian Club, Jim Beam and Suntory Whiskey. Coca-Cola Amatil has a joint venture beer business called Yenda and also sells locally a range of beers and ciders including Blue Moon, Coors and Rekorderlig.

Which of these brands and distribution deals new owner Coca-Cola European Partners will keep and which will be discarded will be the next challenge for the European bottler as it assumes control.

Originally published as CC Amatil shareholders back $9.8bn takeover