Aujan Industries and the Coca-Cola Company have announced a binding agreement for the Coca-Cola Company to acquire around half of the equity in Aujan’s existing beverage business. Once closed, this $980 million transaction will provide Saudi Arabia-based Aujan Industries a platform to accelerate the international growth of the Aujan brands, including Rani and Barbican, while enhancing the regional outlook for licensed brand Vimto. The transaction will present a significant equity stake for the Coca-Cola in one of the leading still beverage businesses in the Middle East. This transaction represents the largest-ever investment by a multinational firm in the Middle East’s fast moving consumer goods sector, reflecting the strength of Aujan’s operations. Aujan holds a top-three position in still beverages in every country in which it operates and is one of the top 100 companies in Saudi Arabia with total annual revenues exceeding $850 million. “As one of the region’s leading beverage companies, this partnership will allow us to unlock new and substantial opportunities,” said Adel Aujan, chairman of Aujan Industries. Drawing upon Aujan’s deep regional insights and the international capabilities of The Coca-Cola Company, Aujan will continue to leverage the strength of its leadership team and is now positioned for even greater success in the region and internationally.” Adel Aujan added: Today’s announcement marks the fruition of extensive dialogue between Aujan and The Coca-Cola Company which has resulted in a soundly based framework for the commercial development of the business. Now supported by our shared heritage of more than 200 years, we are beginning an exciting new chapter in Aujan’s history.” Under the terms of the agreement, the Coca-Cola Company will acquire 50 percent of the Aujan entity that holds the rights to Aujan-owned brands, and 49 percent of Aujan’s bottling and distribution company. The licensed brand Vimto will remain with the Aujan-managed bottling and distribution company.The Coca-Cola system announced in October 2011 that it will invest $5 billion in the Middle East and North Africa region over the next 10 years. “The Middle East is a high-growth region with some of the highest rates of Non Alcoholic Ready To Drink per capita consumption. Today’s announcement is a demonstration of our commitment to consumers here that we are investing for the long term,” said Ahmet C. Bozer, president, Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group.“In addition to their great brands, we are investing in Aujan because it is a well-run, successful business. This transaction creates a platform for further cooperation between The Coca-Cola Company, Aujan and existing bottling partners across the region.” This agreement excludes Aujan’s Iranian manufacturing and distribution business. Closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions.Both companies expect the transaction to close in the first half of 2012.