Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Coke's China juice move collapses

A Huiyuan juice product
Huiyuan is seen as one of China's most successful homegrown brands

China has rejected a $2.4bn (£1.7bn) bid by Coca-Cola for the country's biggest maker of fruit juice, the government has said.

The sale of Huiyuan Juice Group would have been the largest takeover of a Chinese firm by a foreign rival.

But rival juice makers had said the deal would give Coca-Cola too much dominance in China's beverage market.

And nationalists had called on Beijing to ban foreigners from buying one of China's most successful brands.

Key test

Last year the Chinese government introduced tough anti-monopoly laws.

Investors had been waiting for the Ministry of Commerce's decision on whether the Huiyuan deal could go ahead as a test of China's attitudes towards overseas investment in the wake of the new legislation.

A report in the Financial Times said that Coca-Cola had been considering abandoning the deal because regulators would insist that the Huiyuan name, a well-known brand throughout China, was given up.

"If Coke can't own the Huiyuan brand it is difficult to be optimistic about a successful completion of this deal," the FT quoted an unnamed person "close to the deal".

Huiyuan has about a 40% share of the Chinese juice market.

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