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Coca-Cola purchase of Huiyuan 'still under antimonopoly review'
Updated: 2009-03-16 23:03

BEIJING - Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman Yao Jian said Monday that Coca-Cola's bid to acquire China Huiyuan Juice Group was still being reviewed, with reference to an anti-monopoly law that took effect last year.

Yao told reporters that the ministry's investigation and review of the proposed transaction, which started November 20, would finish on March 20.

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Coca-Cola applied for an anti-trust exemption at the end of 2008. The acquisition would be the first major deal concluded under China's new anti-monopoly law.

That law was passed in 2007 and took effect on August 1, 2008.

Yao said the MOC would consider whether the acquisition would disturb market competition or harm rival enterprises or consumers.

On September 3, Coca-Cola offered to buy Huiyuan, the nation's largest juice maker, for 17.92 billion Kong Kong dollars (US$2.3 billion) in cash.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drink maker, said on March 6 it would invest more than 2 billion U.S. dollars over the next three years in China to build new bottling plants and distribution infrastructure.