Coke wants to buy Brazilian rival

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Atlanta-based Coca-Cola wants to buy its No. 1 rival in Brazil, the soft drink guarana Antarctica produced by Cia. Antarctica Paulista in Sao Paulo, with a view to turning it into a popular brand worldwide.

Coke has tried launching its own guarana drink KUAT in Brazil, but sales have not been showing much progress. It has now decided its needs the Antarctica formula.

If necessary, Coca-Cola could buy all the company's soft drinks. According to the most recent Nielsen research from last November, Coke would hold about 62% of the Brazilian soft drinks market if it acquired the whole of Antarctica. Currently, Coke has 49.9% and Antarctica 12.5%.

Executives at the headquarters of both companies have been talking business for around six months, but both officially deny it.

Antarctica is controlled by the Fundao Antonio Helena Zerrenner foundation, which holds 87.8% of the stock.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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