UK: OFT waves through Coca-Cola's full Innocent takeover
Coca-Cola is set to take 100% ownership of the smoothie brand
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has given the green light to the Coca-Cola Company's bid to take full ownership of UK smoothie maker Innocent Drinks.
The body said yesterday (20 May) that the deal can go ahead as it does not believe it will result in a "substantial lessening of competition" in the market. The 22-page OFT ruling revealed that Coca-Cola plans to take a 100% stake in Fresh Trading, the company behind Innocent, which also produces This Water.
Innocent did not reveal the exact figure the US soft drinks giant was taking when the deal was first announced in February, but said it was a "majority" of shares. Coca-Cola first took a minority stake in Fresh Trading in 2009, then upped it to 58% in May 2010.
In its ruling yesterday, the OFT said that some third parties had voiced concerns that the deal would also "leverage" Coca-Cola's "strong position" over the supply of CSDs.
However the OFT said that it did not consider that the deal would "materially strengthen" the US firm's position in relation to retailers and rival companies.
The regulatory body confirmed that it would not be referring the deal to the Competition Commission.
However, the commission is currently examining one drinks deal as the OFT referred AG Barr and Britvic's proposed merger to the body in February.
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