Coca-Cola president quiet on acquisition rumour

Updated on May 24, 2007 12:11 PM IST
Coca-Cola Co's president declines to comment on recent speculation that the company was interested in vitamin water maker Glaceau.
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Reuters | By, Atlanta

Coca-Cola Co's president said on Wednesday the beverage maker was open to making acquisitions, but declined to comment on recent speculation the company was interested in vitamin water maker Glaceau.

"There are some rumours in the marketplace always about us acquiring certain companies," Muhtar Kent told a group of reporters attending grand opening events in Atlanta for the new World of Coca-Cola attraction. "We do not comment on rumor and that's all I can say."

Industry publication Beverage Digest, citing "informed sources," reported earlier this week that Coca-Cola had filed a premerger notification with US regulators about a proposed purchase of Glaceau, which is 30 per cent owned by India's Tata Tea Ltd, and is the No 2 maker of enhanced water behind PepsiCo Inc's Propel.

Kent, named president and chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola in December, said that while boosting growth in existing businesses was the company's main priority, "we actually are very active in bringing in new portfolios to enhance, to supplement, to complement" the soft drink maker's product offering.

"In the future you will see more examples of that as we go around the world," he added.

Kent, a Turkish native, also said Coca-Cola was looking to use "inspirational consumer marketing" to tackle sluggishness in its North American market.

For the first quarter, Coca-Cola said case volume, a key industry metric, fell 3 per cent in North America but rose in Africa, Latin America and other international markets.

"What you're going to see in the days and months ahead in our flagship market is a greater commitment to winning at the point of sale," Kent said.

To aid the operations, Coke brought some senior international executives to work in North America and had resolved issues with the region's bottlers, Kent said.

Coca-Cola shares eased 15 cents to close at $51.33 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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