A decade ago, the
Coca-Cola Company designated several companies as Latin
America's anchor bottlers. One was Mexico's Coca-Cola Femsa and
the other was Panama-based Panamerican Beverages. The companies
quickly became fierce competitors in the battle to become the
region's most important bottler of Coke, but they pursued
different paths. Panamco expanded through a series of regional
acquisitions. Coke Femsa focused on dominating and tightly
managing the Mexican market. By 2002, it seemed that Panamco
had chosen the winning strategy. It bottled Coke and other
beverages in eight countries and generated twice the revenue of
Yet in the end, Femsa's operational excellence won out over
Panamco's size. Last May, the Mexican company completed its
$3.65 billion acquisition of Panamco, making it the largest
ever cross-border M&A transaction between two Latin
American companies. The deal also required the largest
acquisition financing package ever assembled in Latin
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