What Coca-Cola's Nearly $1 Billion Deal with Saudi Company Aujan Means for Entrepreneurs

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Saudi giant Aujan Industries, the largest privately-owned beverage company in the GCC, today also becomes one of the region’s biggest success stories, with its announcement that The Coca-Cola company will acquire half of Aujan’s equity for $980 million.

The deal marks the biggest investment by a multinational firm in the Middle East’s fast moving consumer growth sector, while positioning Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, as a leader in non-carbonated beverages in the Middle East. 

Under the deal’s terms, Coca-Cola will acquire 50 percent of the Aujan entity that holds the rights to its brands Rani and Barbican, and 49 percent of its bottling and distribution company. UK-based softdrink Vimto will remain licensed under the Aujan-managed bottling and distribution company.

This deal is also just the beginning of more opportunity in the region; Coca-Cola announced at the World Economic Forum Special Meeting at the Dead Sea in October 2011 that it will invest $5 billion in the Middle East and North Africa over the next ten years.

“Today’s announcement is a demonstration of our commitment to consumers here that we are investing for the long term," Ahmet C. Bozer, President, Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group, said in a statement.

The deal also demonstrates to budding entrepreneurs that large success stories take time, rarely coming as quickly as Living Social’s recent acquisition of GoNabit. Aujan was established over a century ago, in 1905. it now boasts over 2,500 employees and a turnover of over $850 million, and strategic alliances with Wrigley's, Tominaga Boeki, and Unilever.  

Aujan’s story also highlights this region’s largest deals are still not in the tech sector; a fact that can seem overlooked in the region’s recent rush to invest in tech startups. As the deal helps Aujan accelerate the growth of its brands Rani and Barbican across the globe, it will also open up opportunities for beverage and bottling companies throughout the region, and accelerate growth in the FMCG sector in MENA.

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