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Why Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. Stock Plunged Today

By Steve Symington - May 31, 2016 at 4:38PM

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The leading bottler completed its European partner merger today.

What: Shares of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: CCE) fell 24% Tuesday after the cola bottler completed its combination with Coca-Cola Iberian Partners S.A.U. and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke GmbH. The new company, dubbed Coca-Cola European Partners plc, began trading Tuesday under the CCE ticker.

So what: The merger was first proposed late last year, and creates the world's largest independent Coca-Cola bottler based on its pro forma 2015 net sales of roughly 11 billion euros and 2015 EBITDA of 1.8 billion euros.

"This is a very exciting time for Coca-Cola European Partners, as Europe continues to represent an outstanding platform for long-term, profitable growth," said Coca-Cola European Partners CEO John Brock. "Coca-Cola European Partners has the portfolio, the customer relationships, and the innovation, flexibility, scale, and speed needed to capture this opportunity."

Now what: As it stands, Coca-Cola Enterprises shareholders own 48% of the combined company, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners shareholders own 34%, and Coca-Cola (KO 2.34%) -- which owned Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke -- holds claim to the remaining 18%.

Looking forward, assuming Coca-Cola European Partners is able to capitalize on its combined operations, business synergies, and increased scale to seize this enviable growth opportunity in the soda industry, I suspect shares of the leading bottler will have little trouble generating market-beating returns from here.

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