By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

EXPANSION PLAN. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. welcomes the top executives of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Monday (Feb. 26, 2024). During the meeting with AEV and CCEP, Marcos was informed of Coca-Cola’s plan to expand its operations in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – Beverage firm Coca-Cola is eyeing to invest around USD1 billion to finance its expansion plan in the Philippines in the next five years, Malacañang announced Tuesday.

The plan was discussed when top executives of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV) and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) paid a courtesy call on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Monday, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

Present during the meeting were AEV president and chief executive officer (CEO) Sabin Aboitiz and CCEP chairperson Sol Daurella Comadrán.

During the meeting, Comadrán expressed Coca-Cola’s confidence in the business climate in the Philippines, adding that the beverage company wants sustainable operation as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Emphasizing the company’s initiatives toward the collection and recycling of plastics, Comadrán said the good thing about its operation in the Philippines is its “very significant returnable glass bottle business”.

She also noted that Coca-Cola currently has 9,000 direct employees and an estimated 100,000 indirect employees in the country.

“We generate 100,000 plus (employees) throughout the distribution, through our supplies,” Comadrán told Marcos, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office.

“And we’re very enthusiastic and we see (that) we need to invest in the Philippines, invest to grow the business. And in the next five years, we’re planning for USD1 billion investment, and in fact, we’ve been doing a new plant, which we are building in Tarlac,” she added.

Marcos welcomed the beverage firm’s plan to seize the opportunities in the domestic market and take advantage of the country’s large and young consumer pool.

“Of course, it’s very encouraging that you have decided to expand your operations here. I am sure of the success simply because we have the markets here, growing, the people are, our population is relatively young, and so they are still very much in your market and I can see how the expansion could work,” he said.

In December last year, AEV and CCEP-incorporated CCEP Aboitiz Beverages Philippines Inc. to acquire 100 percent of the share of soft drinks giant Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. (CCBPI).

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) in January this year approved the acquisition of AEV and CCEP’s acquisition of CCBPI for USD1.8 billion.

The PCC’s approval will pave the way for the closing of the transaction by the end of February.

Under the joint acquisition of CCBPI, AEV will have a 40-percent beneficial ownership, while CCEP will hold 60 percent stake.

The acquisition builds on CCEP’s successful expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, making CCBPI the exclusive bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola products in the country, Garafil said.

She added that it also makes CCEP the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler both by revenue and volume.

CCBPI is the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the Philippines engaged in the manufacturing, production, sale, and trade of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages with 17 brands including Coke, Royal, Sprite, Wilkins, Viva, and Nutri Boost. (PNA)