CAK Greenlights Crown Beverages

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has granted unconditional approval for the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Kenya Bottling Company Limited by Mauritius-based Crown Beverages Limited. The approval, detailed in a Gazette Notice, signifies a pivotal moment in the merger analysis, emphasizing the positive impact on competition and the absence of negative public interest concerns.

A Closer Look at the Transaction

Crown Beverages, a Mauritius-based undertaking affiliated with PepsiCo, secured approval for the acquisition. It operates in Uganda and is involved in the bottling of carbonated drinks. On the other hand, Kenya Bottling Company, a locally incorporated entity, functions as an independent bottler for PepsiCo products within Kenya, operating a bottling plant in Nairobi.

Regulatory Framework and Criteria

The transaction falls under the category of a merger as defined by Section 2 and 41 of the Competition Act No. 12 of 2010. This categorization occurs when an undertaking directly or indirectly acquires control over another business within Kenya. The CAK, as the regulatory body, assesses such mergers, especially those involving combined turnovers or assets exceeding Sh1 billion.

Market Dynamics and Public Interest

The non-alcoholic beverages market in Kenya is marked by a diverse mix of multinational corporations and local entities catering to varied consumer preferences. The CAK, in evaluating the impact of the proposed merger on competition, considers market share dynamics post-merger. Notably, the post-merger market share for non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages will remain unchanged as Crown Beverages has no existing market presence in Kenya.

A Holistic Perspective

Beyond market dynamics, the CAK delves into public interest factors, including employment opportunities, competitiveness of SMEs, industry-specific impact, and the ability to compete in international markets. In this case, the Authority, based on parties' submissions, concludes that the transaction will not raise negative public interest concerns. Employment retention is assured, with all 27 current employees of the target company retained.

With the CAK's approval paving the way, Crown Beverages is set to make significant strides in its strategic acquisition of Kenya Bottling Company. The approval not only aligns with regulatory standards but also signifies the positive trajectory of business consolidation in the Kenyan non-alcoholic beverages market.