INDIA: Poona Bottlers file second case against Coca-Cola

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Poona Bottling Co has gone to the Practices Commission (MRTPC) for an injunction restraining Hindusthan Coca-Cola Beverages and its agents from using the distribution and marketing network of its distributors and retailers.

Poona filed another case recently against Hindusthan claiming it had "deceitfully and illegally backed out of a series of contractual commitments."

Further allegations made by Poona claim that Coca-Cola Enterprises has "fraudulently grabbed the established marketing network and at the same time forced it to shut down."

It also claims that the conduct of Coca-Cola Enterprises has rendered its employees and workers jobless and due to the monopolistic and restrictive trade practices by the company, the lives of the workers as well as its factory have been ruined.

The Economic Times reported that Poona Bottling claims that Coca-Cola made it invest heavily in its soft drink bottling plants to bring it up to the company's international standards and had terminated a contract bottling agreement and a subsequent business purchase agreement dated July 1999.

The newspaper also reported that Coca-Cola had offered to purchase all the production and marketing assets of Poona Bottling and its associate companies for Rs 76 crore.

The bottler handed its entire marketing and distribution infrastructure to Coca-Cola but it later failed to conclude the deal on "frivolous" ground despite having paid a 50% advance.

Coca-Cola then filed a case with the Mumbai High Court in February against Poona Bottling without using the arbitration clause in the agreement.

Sarah Diston

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