China to review Coke deal

September 11, 2008

, SHANGHAI, September 11 – China will review Coca-Cola\’s plan to take over China Huiyuan Juice Group according to the principles of a market-oriented economy, state media reported, citing a commerce ministry spokesman.

"The commerce ministry will adhere to the principles of a market-oriented economy, which are against market monopoly but support normal market activity," the Xinhua news agency reported late Wednesday, citing spokesman Yao Shenhong.

Coca-Cola announced last week plans to buy Hong Kong-listed Huiyuan Juice Group for 2.4 billion dollars, the US soft drink maker\’s largest acquisition in China.

Analysts have said the deal would be a litmus test of China\’s anti-monopoly law that took effect last month. If approved, the takeover would be the largest by a foreign firm of a Chinese company, they said.

Huiyuan held a market share of 43.8 percent of China\’s pure juice sector at the end of June, while its share of the country\’s nectars market was 42.4 percent, the Chinese company said, citing a market survey by ACNielsen.

Huiyuan\’s vice president Matthew Mouw said Wednesday that Coca-Cola had yet to formally apply to the Chinese authorities for approval to buy the firm, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

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