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Coca-Cola commits to ploughing in R240m over three years to support economy

| Economic factors

COCA-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) on Friday tripled the size of its employee share ownership scheme (Esop) launched last year in a multibillion-rand worker equity provision for its 8 000-strong labour force.

Without divulging the value of the transaction, CCBSA managing director Velaphi Ratshefola said the group empowerment ownership would be increased to a 20 percent target, with a significant worker ownership component.

Ratshefola said the transaction would triple the size of the Ikageng Employee Share Trust established last year to offer its employees shares and direct economic participation in the business.

“This updated agreement will result in employees increasing their current holding of around 5 percent in CCBSA to an approximate 15 percent shareholding in CCBSA,” said Ratshefola.

As part of the transaction, CCBSA also committed to making R240 million available over three years towards establishing a localisation platform to support the moribund economy.

“We will be contributing R80m a year for three years to localisation initiatives that form part of the national efforts to rebuild the economy,” Ratshefola said.

CCBSA also agreed to have two seats for workers on the board, and committed to transforming and supporting the local sugar industry.

“We have also undertaken to collaborate with our sugar suppliers to increase the volume of sugar cane procured from black farmers,” said Ratshefola.

The commitment to support the sugar industry forms part of the CCBSA commitment to localisation under the Sugar Masterplan, signed by the industry and government in November 2019.

The Sugar Masterplan will see CBSA, industrial users and retailers of sugar procure at least 80 percent of their sugar needs from South African millers in 2021, increasing to 95 percent by 2023, reducing the reliance on imported sugar.

Commenting on the Esop, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel said workers and their trade unions were important partners in the quest for deeper growth, more jobs and greater inclusivity.

“It is a boost for the efforts to build that more inclusive economy. It is a sweet spot in a difficult time for workers and consumers, and follows the recent announcement by Ford Motor Company of the biggest investment in their history in South Africa, with R16bn that will build and expand their production facilities,” Patel said.

He welcomed the R240m contribution to local procurement saying it was in response to the President Ramaphosa’s call for greater levels of localisation in the economy, and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

“It is a joint fund. It is one where the head of CCBSA will work closely with myself and we will try to utilise these resources to implement the commitment that has come out of the package that was agreed on at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. There was a significant commitment that was made to all the social partners to boost localisation in the economy,” said Patel.

The fund would be part of efforts to support the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition drive in sectors outside of CCBSA’s footprint, so it can be used to bring expertise and technical skills to help greater localisation in food, clothing, consumer goods, machinery and many other sectors.


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