Mexican soft drinks company Fomento Económico Mexicano (FEMSA) has declined to comment on reports that it is eyeing the purchase of Coca-Cola bottling plants in Canada.

The Mexican daily Excelsior yesterday (9 March) said that the beverage giant - owner of Coca-Cola FEMSA, the world's second-biggest bottler of Coca-Cola Co. beverages - was planning to buy a number of the facilities in Canada.

The newspaper said that FEMSA is eyeing plants that Coca-Cola Enterprises recently agreed to sell to Coca-Cola Co. after FEMSA's bid for Mexican bottler Contal was rejected.

The firm, however, told just-drinks today that it would “not comment on rumours”. Coca-Cola was unavailable for comment as just-drinks went to press.

The Canadian plants are understood to be valued at $4.5bn and have $8bn in debt.

FEMSA is currently in the process of selling its beer unit for a 20% stake in Dutch brewer Heineken in a US$5.7bn, all-share deal. The sale is due to close in the second quarter of 2010.

Heineken this week began its share repurchase programme, hoping to buy back shares up to a maximum of EUR100m (US$136.5m) over the next three months. The shares will be delivered to FEMSA upon completion of the acquisition.