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Previously Disadvantaged Players Get to Own a Piece of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola Co. is planning to sell a stake in its South African bottling unit to local non-White investors in a deal worth about $669 million, in line with an agreement with local regulators. The move helps the U.S. drinks giant comply with South Africa’s policies that prescribe minimum holdings in companies for Blacks and minority groups that faced economic discrimination under apartheid. The deal was a condition of Coca-Cola’s 2016 buyout of former partner SABMiller, now part of brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s broad-based black ownership will be increased to a revised 20% target, the company said in a statement on Friday, without giving detail on value of the deal. Employees will have control of a 15% stake. Rothschild & Co is an adviser on the deal. The broader Coca-Cola Beverages Africa is based in the coastal town of Port Elizabeth and serves 12 countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana, according to the website. It accounts for about 40% of the Atlanta-based company’s drinks sold on the continent. The value of the entire business is about 45 billion rand, meaning the new investors are getting a discounted price. The deal will help benefit employees and other partners as well as non-White investors, though the exact structure is as yet unclear.