Aujan Industries, one of the largest independent beverage companies in the Middle East, and The Coca-Cola Company KO +0.81% today announced a binding agreement for The Coca-Cola Company to acquire approximately half of the equity in Aujan’s existing beverage business.

Once closed, this $980 million transaction will provide Saudi Arabia-based Aujan Industries a platform to accelerate the international growth of the Aujan brands, including Rani and Barbican, while enhancing the regional outlook for licensed brand Vimto. The transaction will present The Coca-Cola Company a significant equity stake in one of the leading still beverage businesses in the Middle East.

This transaction represents the largest-ever investment by a multinational firm in the Middle East’s fast moving consumer goods sector, reflecting the strength of Aujan’s operations. Aujan holds a top-three position in still beverages in every country in which it operates and is one of the top 100 companies in Saudi Arabia with total annual revenues exceeding $850 million.

“As one of the region’s leading beverage companies, this partnership will allow us to unlock new and substantial opportunities,” said Sheikh Adel Aujan, Chairman of Aujan Industries. “Drawing upon Aujan’s deep regional insights and the international capabilities of The Coca-Cola Company, Aujan will continue to leverage the strength of its leadership team and is now positioned for even greater success in the region and internationally.

“Today’s announcement marks the fruition of extensive dialogue between Aujan and The Coca-Cola Company which has resulted in a soundly based framework for the commercial development of the business. Now supported by our shared heritage of more than 200 years, we are beginning an exciting new chapter in Aujan’s history.”

Under the terms of the agreement, The Coca-Cola Company will acquire 50 percent of the Aujan entity that holds the rights to Aujan-owned brands, and 49 percent of Aujan’s bottling and distribution company. The licensed brand Vimto will remain with the Aujan-managed bottling and distribution company.

The Coca-Cola system – which currently employs more than 40,000 people across the Arab world – announced in October 2011 that it will invest $5 billion in the Middle East and North Africa region over the next 10 years.

Full article: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aujan-industries-and-the-coca-cola-company-announce-signing-of-980-million-agreement-2011-12-14