NEW YORK (AP) — Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Co., the fifth-largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S., agreed to be acquired by The Coca-Cola Co. for $360 million.
The Oklahoma City bottler said Thursday that Robert Browne, its chairman and chief executive, will join Coca-Cola's Refreshments unit working on product supply and customer service operations.
The privately held company operates nine facilities, employs more than 1,200 workers, and serves territories with more than 3 million people in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc. are trying to gain more control over their bottlers and distributors, hoping to get new drinks on shelves more quickly to keep up with changing tastes. Last year, Coca-Cola bought Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.'s North American bottling operations for $3.4 billion. And PepsiCo acquired Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas in a $7.8 billion deal.
Earlier this month, Coca-Cola Co. of Atlanta reported an 8 percent increase in its third-quarter profit as it sold more drinks worldwide and raised prices in North America, its largest market.
The transaction for Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling requires regulatory approval and is expected to close by year-end.
Coca-Cola shares rose $1.43, or 2.1 percent, to $68.90 in premarket trading.