Coke buys up Bulgarian mineral water company

Related tags Fruit juice Mineral water

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling has acquired a 100 per cent stake of
Bankia, one of the leading Bulgarian natural mineral water
companies, in a move that further expands the company's presence in
the fast-growing Eastern European market for bottled water,
writes Simon Pitman.

The company said that the acquisition cost and the financial results will be shared equally by CCHBC and its parent The Coca-Cola Company, although the exact acquisition price was not revealed.

"CCHBC's share of the acquisition cost will be fully covered through its existing debt facilities and internal cashflow and is not expected to adversely impact the company's financial results,"​ the company said in an official statement about the deal.

Bankia's assets include production facilities located just outside the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and the natural mineral water brand Bankia. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval from the Bulgarian state authorities.

Doros Constantinou, managing director of CCHBC, said, "This acquisition is a significant further commitment to our operations in Bulgaria. Bankia has great potential for continued growth in Bulgaria's rapidly expanding bottled water segment. We have a strong track record in integrating new water businesses into the group as part of our water strategy and we are very pleased to welcome another high quality local brand to our system portfolio".

CCHBC​, which is one of the world's largest bottlers of products of Coca-Cola products currently has operations in 26 countries serving a population of more than 500 million people. Currently its operations are represented in every country in Central and Eastern Europe.

In light of falling sales for the company's carbonated drinks, CCHBC has clearly stated that it wants to focus on anticipated growth of mineral water and juices in the Central and Eastern European region.

In line with this the company also announced last week that it was buying Multon, a leading Russian fruit juice maker. With production facilities in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the acquisition is expected to bring significant synergies to CCHBC's existing non-carbonated drinks operations in the country.

A recent report by market analysts Euromonitor​ said that fruit juice sales in Eastern Europe rose by 64 per cent between 1998 and 2003, compared to just 18 per cent growth for carbonates. And fruit juice and water are expected to continue leading the sector up to 2008.

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