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Coca-Cola Considering Shanghai Listing

Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world’s largest soft-drink maker, is in discussions with China’s government as it considers a listing on Shanghai’s stock exchange, the company’s Asia-Pacific spokesman said.

“We are interested in exploring the opportunity of listing our stock on the Shanghai stock exchange,” Geoff Walsh, Coca-Cola’s Hong Kong-based public affairs and communications director for Asia, said in an e-mailed reply to queries.

“We need to better understand the regulatory framework and listing requirements,” he said. “We continue to have positive discussions with Chinese government officials as we look at this opportunity.”

Coca-Cola, whose Sprite is China’s top-selling soft drink, will probably increase spending in the world’s most populous nation as it invests a planned $2 billion faster than anticipated, Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent said in November. The maker of Minute Maid juice is building plants in China at a faster pace than it expected as it jostles for market share with rivals including PepsiCo Inc.

About 14 percent of Coca-Cola’s $35 billion in sales last year were made in the Pacific region, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While overseas companies can sell their shares in Hong Kong, they’re barred from doing so in mainland China. The government may approve a board for the listing of overseas companies on the mainland by the end of June, Caixin Century magazine reported on May 30, citing an unidentified investment banker. The first listing on the board may happen as soon as October, the report said, citing the banker.

Mainland China doesn’t include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.