San Miguel Corporation has made tentative moves to buy back the Philippines operations of Australia’s Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). San Miguel and The Coca-Cola Co. sold Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines to CCA three years ago for $A3.5 billion, San Miguel receiving 220 million CCA shares for its 70% stake.Its interest follows a fall of about 30% in CCA’s share price in the past two months. The current trading price of about $A3.10 is a seven-year low and about $5 down on the price 12 months ago.The inquiries also follow a 10% slump consumption of Coca-Cola in the Philippines in 1999, a slump which CCA says is due to a general downturn in consumer confidence.A CCA spokesman said that “no proposal has been put to us”. He said that CCA was forecasting an eventual return to sales growth in the Philippines, which had been 33% two years ago.With that expectation, it had announced last December a review and re-structuring of all its Philippines’ operations, including distribution and packaging.The market was a major one for CCA, making up about 40% of its total sales of one billion cases. There were 20 plants in operation though two in Manila have been closed as part of the re-structuring. San Miguel called off a global offering of its CCA stock last September when CCA’s shares fell to $A5.30. Chris Snow

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