The Coca-Cola Company, the Atlanta-headquartered beverage multinational, has become Kenya’s largest water bottling company by market share after merging its local operations with that of SABMiller, a multinational brewing and beverage company headquartered in Woking, England, but with significant interests across Africa’s alcohol and soft drinks market.
The Coca-Cola Company is said to have a long history of acquisitions. It acquired Minute Maid in 1960, the Indian cola brand Thums Up in 1993 and Barq’s in 1995. It also acquired the Odwalla brand of fruit juices, smoothies, and bars for $181 million in 2001. While in 2007, it acquired Fuze Beverage from founder Lance Collins and Castanea Partners for an estimated $250 million.
Despite its extensive presence across Africa, with Coke being the most popular cola brand across the continent, Coca-Cola has wasted little time in moving to grow its interests in the water bottling market by teaming up with SABMiller.
The merger was agreed in 2014 and was a triple team arrangement—between Coca-Cola, SABMiller and the Gutsche Family Investments (GFI)—aimed at creating the continent’s biggest soft-drinks company, Business Daily Africa reported.
Prior to the merger, Coca-Cola held approximately 9 percent of the bottled water market in Kenya, making it the third largest player in the market.
The merger, however, affords Coca-Cola control over Crown Beverages, a local subsidiary of SABMiller that owns bottled water brand Keringet.
This means Coca-Cola now holds about 22 percent of the market share, by far the largest, as Crown Beverages held 13.87 percent before it was taken over.