Coca-Cola Enterprises Plans $1B Buyback

ATLANTA (AP) -- Bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. plans to buy back about $1 billion of its stock within the next 18 months.

The company, which sold its North American operations to Coca-Cola Co. for $3.4 billion and is now a new public company, said Thursday that it expects to start the buyback in the fourth quarter.

Coca-Cola Enterprises plans to finance the repurchase program with existing cash, cash from future operations and incremental debt.

The company, based in Atlanta, had about $475 million in cash and $1.9 billion of net debt at the third quarter's end.

Coca-Cola Enterprises also said it anticipates paying a fourth-quarter dividend of 12.5 cents.

The sale of its North American operations also included about $8.8 billion in assumed debt, bringing the transaction's total value to almost $12.3 billion.

Coca-Cola Enterprises bought certain Coca-Cola bottling operations as part of the deal, and its shareholders get stock in a new company and $10 per share. The new CCE is a Coke bottler in Belgium, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Coca-Cola Enterprises plans to release its third-quarter results on Oct. 28.
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