Coca-Cola is buying high-street coffee chain Costa in a $5.1 billion deal as it moves into the hot drinks market for the first time and eyes an expansion of the brand globally.
The deal, announced Friday morning, would "give
Costa, which was founded in London in 1971 and bought by Whitbread for £19 million (US$24.5 million) in 1995, has grown into a global brand with an established presence in parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as a growing footprint in China. It now has more than 2,400 UK coffee shops and 1,400 outlets in 31 overseas markets.
Coke also values the brand for its Costa Express vending machines, which serve coffee at places like train stations and movie theatres, and it is seen as a clear opportunity to be expanded within Coca-Cola's global distribution network. Costa Express has 8,237 vending machines worldwide.
However, Coke believes coffee remains a "largely fragmented market" even though it is a significant and growing part of the global drinks market.
James Quincey, the president and chief executive of Coca-Cola, said buying Costa was part of Coke's "evolution as a total beverage company."
He added: "Costa gives
"Hot beverages is one of the few segments of the total beverage landscape where
Costa, meanwhile, had already begun a journey of aggressive global expansion and earlier this year appointed Bartle Bogle Hegarty London as its first global ad agency to create a worldwide marketing proposition.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2019 and is subject to shareholder approval from Whitbread, which is expected to happen by mid-October, as well as antitrust approvals in the European Union and China.