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Coca-Cola bottlers in CEO search after Kenyan merger

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A Coca-Cola depot. Three bottlers have merged to create a single company that will be soon be having new directors and executive. Photo/Salaton Njau

A Coca-Cola depot. Three bottlers have merged to create a single company that will be soon be having new directors and executive. Photo/Salaton Njau  Nation Media Group

By VICTOR JUMA

Posted  Sunday, January 6   2013 at  18:31

In Summary

  • The bottling factories based in Nyeri, Rift Valley and Kisii will now form a single entity— the Almasi Beverages Limited —with the value of the three expected to rise by 26 per cent to Sh5.7 billion.
  • Centum has emerged a key beneficiary of the merger with a director in the firm putting its stake at about 40 per cent.

Three Coca-Cola bottlers are set to begin the search for a new executive and directors after the completion of their merger, which has seen Centum become one of top shareholders.

The bottling factories based in Nyeri, Rift Valley and Kisii will now form a single entity— the Almasi Beverages Limited —with the value of the three expected to rise by 26 per cent to Sh5.7 billion.

Peter Njonjo, Coca-Cola general manager for East Africa, said the merger that was announced in August is now complete, setting the stage for a new board and management to take over the joint operation.

The three bottlers have been operating as distinct companies with their own managers, boards of directors and shareholders including investment firm Centum that had 44 per cent stake in Rift Valley, Mount Kenya (28.6 per cent) and 23.8 per cent in Kisii as at March.

Centum has emerged a key beneficiary of the merger with a director in the firm putting its stake at about 40 per cent, an ownership that will offer muscle in the search of new directors and executives.

This was reinforced by the fact that Coca-Cola’s East Africa office, advisers of the deal Dalberg Global Development and the bottlers directed the Business Daily to Centum for the finer details of the transaction.

‘‘Centum’s stake in Almasi is just under 40 per cent,’’ said Robert Bunyi, a director of the Nairobi bourse-listed investment firm. The merger would not entail closure of plants, the officials said.

Nairobi Bottlers which was created from Nakuru-based Flamingo Bottlers, Machakos-based East Kenya Bottlers and the old Nairobi Bottlers seven years ago, led to the shut down of the three factories and job cuts.

“Almasi will soon start the process of appointing its board of directors and top management,” said a source familiar with the plans who sought anonymity.

Shareholders of the bottling plants were issued with new shares following a swap, which saw Centum emerge the top shareholder on the strength that it had ownership in all the three firms.

The merger of the three bottling factories comes amid resistance from some shareholders including businessman Matu Wamae, a shareholder in the Mount Kenya factory.

Mr Wamae claimed the transaction was spearheaded by Centum and Industrial & Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), which also has stakes in the companies.

The deal happened in a period that saw Centum tighten its grip on the Coca-Cola franchises after the investment firm bought additional shares in four bottling companies Nairobi Bottlers worth Sh442m between April and September.

It has a 27.62 per cent stake in Nairobi Bottlers — which it says accounts for half of Coca-Cola branded sodas sold in the Kenyan market. Centum’s shares in the four Coca- Cola bottling companies represented 28 per cent of its assets, contributed 20 per cent of its profit and two per cent of the cash flow in the year to March.

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