The Coca-Cola Company and Nestle S.A. announced today the further development of their existing joint venture partnership, Coca-Cola and Nestle Refreshments (CCNR). The co-operation will be renamed Beverage Partners Worldwide (BPW) and function as an entrepreneurial unit dedicated to tapping the growth potential of emerging beverage segments, particularly ready-to-drink coffee, teas and beverages with a healthful positioning.

A highly successful co-operation formed in 1991, CCNR currently operates directly in 24 countries and enjoys a solid position in the ready-to-drink tea category. CCNR will serve as a solid initial foundation from which Beverage Partners Worldwide will actively expand into new beverage segments. With its increased brand range, BPW will have a volume base of 250 million cases.

"Beverage Partners Worldwide will operate with the full commitment of its two equity partners, but with the innovative spirit, speed and culture of a new start-up company," said Carlos E. Represas, Nestle executive vice-president. "We expect that combination to stimulate rapid growth."

Brands already within the co-operation include Nestea and Nescafe for the ready-to-drink categories. In addition, Coca-Cola will add the Tian Yu Di tea and Yang Guang tea businesses, while Nestle will be contributing its Belte tea business. Beverage Partners Worldwide will also focus on expanding its geographical reach, looking to enter new markets (excluding Japan) with both new and existing products.

As an independent entity, BPW will have the structural flexibility to quickly and decisively capitalize on new opportunities. In addition to its present coffee and tea-based product lines, the company will also participate in the fast growing herbal beverage sector, as well as market beverages with a healthful positioning.

With a clear focus on marketing and sales, Beverage Partners Worldwide will develop an entrepreneurial management team of approximately 60 professionals. Mr. Hans Savonije, a Dutch national with extensive international experience, and currently Coca-Cola's division president for Central Europe and the Russian Federation, will be appointed chief executive officer of the company, which will be based in Zurich. Mr. Savonije will report directly to an executive board co-chaired by Mr. Jack L. Stahl, president of The Coca-Cola Company, and Mr. Carlos E. Represas, executive vice-president of Nestle S.A.

Beverage Partners Worldwide will enjoy operational freedom while continuing to draw upon the complementary capabilities of the two partners -- benefiting from Nestle's depth of knowledge in life science, research and development, as well as the traditional marketing expertise and distribution strength of Coca-Cola.

"We have great respect for Nestle and their special insight," said Mr. Stahl. "Developing a focused relationship with such a uniquely qualified partner as Nestle is an important component of our overall growth strategy, and we have very high expectations for Beverage Partners Worldwide."

Beverage Partners Worldwide is subject to approval by regulatory authorities, and discussions have already been initiated with the European Commission. The transaction does not imply any participation in the respective partners' share capital.