What: Shares of Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE:CCE) fell 26% in May 2016, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Along the way, the company also changed name to Coca-Cola European Partners and radically changed its ownership structure.
So what: As announced in August 2015 and approved by shareholders on May 24, independent bottler and distributor Coca-Cola Enterprises merged with two European peers -- Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetranke AG -- just before the end of May. Until then, share prices had been floating along fairly close to the breakeven mark.
The big drop was not a result of a business disaster or other bad news. Instead, it reflected the drastic change to the new, combined company's ownership structure. Shareholders from the Coca-Cola Enterprises side now own 48% of the merged business. Coca-Cola Iberian Partners shareholders held on to 34% of the new unit's shares, and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) itself grabbed 18% of the final structure due to its 100% ownership of Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetranke (gesundheit!).
Now what: Coca-Cola Enterprises owners also got a one-time $14.50 cash payment per share out of this deal, financed by new debt papers. Coca-Cola European Partners is expected to see annual sales near $12.6 billion, generating about $2.6 billion in EBITDA earnings.
Despite a 52% dilution hit, CCE share prices only dropped 26% when the final switch was thrown. Investors see fresh value being created here, as Coca-Cola works to consolidate its global distribution networks.
Coca-Cola European Partners is now the largest independent Coke distributor in the world, serving some 300 million consumers across Western Europe.
Anders Bylund has no position in any stocks mentioned. He does drink a lot of Coke, and misses the Coke Lime option dearly. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.