Coca-Cola to buy Costa Coffee for $5.1 billion

Sep 02, 2018, 01:59
Coca-Cola to buy Costa Coffee for $5.1 billion

Costa also operates more than 8,000 Costa Express self-serve machines in eight countries, as well as placing its products in supermarkets. It expects the transaction to be completed in the first half of 2019.

The company has agreed to buy coffee chain Costa Coffee from United Kingdom drinks and hotels group Whitbread for £3.9 billion ($5.1 billion).

Scott Ferguson, managing partner and portfolio manager at Sachem Head, said that his fund was "very pleased with the transaction, and credit management and the board for thoughtfully maximizing value for shareholders".

Shares in Whitbread jumped nearly 20% at the open on the news. And after years of jokes about a Starbucks on every corner, it's said it will close about 150 company-operated stores in densely penetrated US markets next fiscal year.

For Coca-Cola, the deal adds to its efforts to move away from fizzy drinks towards more healthier options for increasingly health-conscious consumers. It follows similar moves by rivals, including PepsiCo's purchase of carbonated water maker SodaStream.

The deal, announced this morning, would "give Coca-Cola a strong, global coffee platform with a footprint in more than 30 countries and potential for future growth", the company said.

She said that Coca-Cola, which had $35.4bn in revenues in 2017 and has market capitalisation of over $191bn, has a global scale and supply chains that would enable Costa to grow and compete against worldwide rivals in a way that would not have been possible as a standalone company. Costa is "the best way" for the soft drinks giant "to add a global coffee platform that will complement our existing system".

Outside of the retail cafes, Costa's true value may lie in its inherent synergies with Coke's existing businesses.

Coke is under pressure to establish itself in new markets, with annual sales that have been in decline since 2012. The chain is now the most popular coffee shop in the United Kingdom with 48% of consumers buying a hot drink from Costa in the three months to October 2017, with consumers aged 18 to 24 most likely to have bought a hot drink from Costa.

Coke was little changed, slipping 0.2 per cent to $44.85 at 9:52 a.m.in NY.

Whitbread shares rose as much as 19% as the sale gives the United Kingdom company a quick way out.

Shares of Whitbread jumped by 655p, or 16.3 per cent, to £46.75 after the surprise news that the 276-year-old company had torn up its plans to demerge Costa as a separately listed business and had agreed to sell the chain to Coca-Cola.

Whitbread said it will use the money to reduce its debt, increase its contribution to the pension fund and return a "significant majority" to shareholders.

Whitbread bought Costa, which is now the UK's biggest coffee chain, for just £19m in 1995. Since then, the market in the traditionally tea-drinking United Kingdom has boomed.

The decision to push into bottled coffee in the US instead of physical coffeehouses comes at a time when Starbucks has faced slowing growth.

Coffee is notably missing from. Earlier this year, the British newspaper the Guardian ran a story titled "Have we reached peak Costa Coffee?" Consumers in the United Kingdom are reducing spending due to inflation and concern that Brexit may hurt the economy. Costa has more United Kingdom stores than Starbucks and has been expanding globally. Costa has more than 2,400 coffee shops in the United Kingdom and 1,400 others in more than 30 countries, including around 460 in China, its second-biggest market.

Nestle joined the trend of coffee giants taking aim at smaller niche producers, buying Blue Bottle Coffee and Chameleon Cold Brew.

Nestle and Starbucks agreed to a $7.2 billion global coffee alliance.

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