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Cott Corp. Forms Venture with Mexican Bottler

TORONTO - In a move which will expand its manufacturing and marketing capabilities into Mexico, soft drink maker Cott Corporation today announced it is acquiring a 90 percent stake in a new venture, to be managed by Cott, which is being formed with Mexican bottler Embotelladora de Puebla, S.A. de C.V. (EPSA).

"Entry into Mexico is strategically very important to Cott," said Frank E. Weise, Cott chairman, president and CEO. "This new alliance presents us with the opportunity to become a strong player in an exciting market that has a population of approximately 100 million, and the second highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the world."

Headquartered in the city of Puebla, the privately-owned EPSA traces its roots back more than 40 years as a beverage bottler and marketer in Mexico and a leading supplier of retailer brand carbonated soft drinks there.

Under the terms of the deal, which were not disclosed, the new venture, Cott Embotelladores de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., will manufacture retailer brand soft drinks for several grocery retailers in Mexico including Comercial Mexicana, Chedraui and Wal-Mart.

Leading the new venture will be Gilbert Arvizu as managing director. A 15-year beverage industry professional, Arvizu most recently served as a vice president sales and business development for the Company's U.S. unit. He will be located in the city of Puebla and will report to Mark Benadiba, executive vice president of Cott.

Cott Corporation is the world's leading producer of store-brand soft drinks, operating in Canada, the UK, and the US. Cott also makes and distributes bottled water, juices, iced teas, and sports drinks. It makes private-label brands for retailers including Sainsbury Classic for UK grocer J Sainsbury, Sam's American Choice (US) and Great Value (Canada) for Wal-Mart, and Safeway Select for Safeway. Safeway and Wal-Mart account for about 50 percent of Cott's sales, according to Hoover's.
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