Swire buys Coke’s plant in Vietnam

Swire Pacific Ltd. is buying Coca-Cola Co.’s bottling operations in Vietnam and Cambodia for $1.015 billion, marking the Hong Kong conglomerate’s first expansion into the Southeast Asian beverages market.

The deal will “expand the group’s beverages business into one of the most rapidly growing beverages markets,” Swire said in a stock exchange filing on Monday. The transaction is expected to be completed within six months, subject to antitrust approval, according to the filing.

The 206-year-old Swire, one of the two remaining British trading houses in Hong Kong, has been redirecting investment into key operations including beverages and property, two of its most profitable businesses, as well as going into emerging sectors like health care. The company also controls Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., one of Asia’s best-known airlines.

Swire has a long-standing relationship with Coca-Cola, and previously bought the soft-drink maker’s bottling operations in southern China in 2016. Swire’s beverage arm operates one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the world and now serves some 675 million customers in mainland China.

Among the major assets that Swire has offloaded in recent years in its re-direction of investment is Swire Pacific Offshore Holdings Ltd., which Tidewater Inc. agreed to buy in March for $190 million, partly in cash and partly in warrants.

And in 2020, Swire Properties Ltd. agreed to sell a stake in a Hong Kong office tower to private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners for almost $1.3 billion.