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Coca-Cola Beverages Africa has a new CEO

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) has appointed Sunil Gupta to succeed Jacques Vermeulen as CEO, effective 1 April 2024.….

Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) says its incoming CEO, Sunil Gupta, will lead its delayed mega initial public offering (IPO) on the JSE.

Gupta is currently the CFO of Coca-Cola’s Bottling Investment Group, which manages the group’s bottling network.

CCBA said while unfavourable market conditions delayed its IPO, the group still intended to complete that transaction, and that that would be at the top of Gupta’s to do list when he took over in April.

“Sunil will play a critical role in The Coca-Cola Company’s continued commitment to successfully list CCBA as a public company via an IPO once market conditions become more favourable,” the company said.

Gupta replaces Jacques Vermeulen, who is retiring from the group after 28 years, the last five of which he was CEO.

CCBA’s mooted IPO has both excited and frustrated the market due to a three-year delay as the group waits for market conditions to improve.

The firm is a jewel in the CCBA crown, accounting for more than 40% of the group’s products sold in Africa by volume. CCBA is also the 8th largest Coca-Cola bottling partner in the world by revenue.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola announced in 2021 that it planned to list its African bottling operations on Euronext Amsterdam, with a secondary listing on the JSE. At the time, the company said Rothschild & Co would advise on the IPO, which Bloomberg had valued at $8.1bn.

“The IPO will allow CCBA to operate as an independent, Africa-focused, SA-headquartered, managed and domiciled business. The plans underscore The Coca‑Cola Company’s continued and long-term belief and commitment to the African continent and the leadership of CCBA from SA,” the group said at the time.

According to data supplied by market research firm Euromonitor International, Coca-Cola has a 45% market share in the soft drinks category in SA, 37% in Kenya, 16.5% in Uganda and 26% in Tanzania.

Coca-Cola, in terms of sales, occupies the number one position SA, Kenya and Tanzania, and is second to rival PepsiCo in Uganda.

The JSE, which is on the verge of losing MultiChoice, has had a torrid five years in terms of delistings. The bourse has struggled to attract new IPOs because of the weakness of SA’s economy, hamstrung by energy and logistics crises.

More than 40 companies have exited the exchange in the past two years. The bourse has told Business Day that it has a “healthy pipeline” of IPOs in 2024.

The JSE, which has almost halved in size over the past two decades, took steps in 2023 to rewrite its listing requirements and cut the red tape that has made it unattractive for local and offshore companies.