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Coca-Cola gets shareholder approval to buy UK coffee chain Costa


Coca-Cola just got the nod from investors to buy the UK coffee chain Costa for $5.1bn (£3.9bn).

UK-based Whitbread (WTB.L), which owns the Costa business, held a shareholder vote this week. On Thursday morning, the company announced that 99% of votes cast were in favour of the deal.

The drinks behemoth Coca-Cola (KO), which owns brands including Minute Maid and Smartwater, announced its takeover intentions in late August. It’s pushing to expand into new product categories and provide customers with healthier options.

Costa boasts roughly 4,000 retail outlets around the world and has recently been expanding into China. Whitbread bought the Costa chain in 1995 for £19m ($25m) when it had just 39 shops.

Whitbread, which is one of the largest companies traded on the London Stock Exchange, also owns and operates the Premier Inn hotel chain.

Coca-Cola is buying the Costa coffee chain from Whitbread for $5.1 billion. Photo: Zhang Peng/Getty Images
Coca-Cola is buying the Costa coffee chain from Whitbread for $5.1 billion. Photo: Zhang Peng/Getty Images

Whitbread CEO Alison Brittain said in August that she “expect[s] to return a significant majority of net proceeds to shareholders.”

Whitbread will also reduce debt and make a contribution to its pension fund, which will provide additional headroom for the expansion of Premier Inn,” she said at the time.

The deal is expected to close by the end of June 2019.