Coca-Cola has been touted as 3Gs next target

Coca-Cola has been touted as 3G's next target

A nod is as good as a wink to some. Especially, it would appear, when it comes to decoding the clutter surrounding the Anheuser-Busch InBev/SABMiller deal.

In a note redolent of the days of Kremlinology, when Soviet analysts in the West were forced to interpret what was happening behind the Iron Curtain from tidbits such as the seating arrangements at official banquets, analysts at Bernstein today outlined their thoughts on a recent meeting with management at The Coca-Cola Co.

The soft drinks company has been touted as the next target of A-B InBev's Brazilian private equity owners 3G, once they have finished consuming SABMiller. And, although Coca-Cola was not willing to discuss the matter with Bernstein directly, the analysts managed to broach what they called "the elephant in the room" - is Coca-Cola in line to be bought?

In posing the question, the Bernstein folk drew out a telling reaction that they claimed makes it clear that at the very least there is pressure on the assembled executives to improve Coca-Cola's recent sluggish performance.

According to Bernstein, management's "body language was not open when discussing 'learnings from the Brazilians'". Also, "eyes twitched a little when ABI-SAB was mentioned for the first time".

Bernstein continued: "Net-net, although no one said it explicitly, it felt like the alternative to Coca-Cola not changing quickly was in people's minds and not rosy, particularly three-to-four years from now when ABI-SAB may be able to acquire again."

So, there you have it. Coca-Cola is just waiting to be snapped up.

Or is it? We may have to wait for the seating arrangements at the next AGM, just to be sure.