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Centum buys majority stake in bottling firm

Centum chief executive James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE
Centum chief executive James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE 

Investment firm Centum is set to invest over Sh100 million to acquire an extra three per cent stake in Almasi Beverages, a transaction that will give it control of the Coca-Cola bottlers holding company.

“Centum is … bringing our total shareholding to 50.95 per cent of the issued share capital of the company and resulting in Almasi becoming a subsidiary of Centum,” the firm’s CEO James Mworia said in a statement Monday.

“The intended acquisition of a controlling interest in Almasi is in line with our strategic objective of expanding our presence in the fast moving consumer goods sector.”

Almasi is a holding company of three Coca-Cola bottling firms: Mount Kenya Bottlers, Rift Valley Bottlers and Kisii Bottlers.

The three firms were merged in early 2013, with investors in the previously independent bottlers swapping their shares for a stake in the holding company.

The latest deal signals Centum’s appetite for the local Coca-Cola franchises, having raised its stake in Almasi severally from the 35 per cent it held when the merger was concluded.

Centum in June last year announced it had increased its ownership in Almasi to 43.5 per cent after buying out minority investors for $5 million (Sh450 million).

Centum’s revelation that it now holds a 47.95 per cent stake in Almasi means it has acquired an extra 4.45 per cent interest since then.

The investment firm says Almasi has the second largest share of the Coca-Cola bottling business in Kenya after Nairobi Bottlers where it has a 27.62 per cent stake.

The proposed transaction is subject to approval by the Competition Authority of Kenya which vets deals that will result in a dominant player –defined as one with a market share of at least 50 per cent.

Nairobi Bottlers accounts for about half of Coca-Cola branded sodas in the country, signaling Centum’s expanded interest in the soft drinks market.

The shareholders who sold their respective interests in the three bottlers did not want to take ownership in the merged entity.

Before their merger, the investment firm had a 44 per cent stake in Rift Valley, 28.6 per cent in Mount Kenya and 23.8 per cent in Kisii.

The proposed transaction is subject to approval by the Competition Authority of Kenya which vets deals that will result in a dominant player –defined as one with a market share of at least 50 per cent.

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