Coca Cola Israel's Purchase of Tara Dairies Nears Completion

The Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) is completing its due diligence on the Tara dairy cooperative, prior to finalizing its acquisition. Sources close to the deal said there is a $1 million to $5 million difference between Coca Cola's bid and Tara's asking price.

The companies both emphasized yesterday that the deal is close to a final signature. Sources close to the negotiations said that Tara had expected the original bid to drop after the due diligence process.

At the end of April, Coca Cola Israel announced plans to buy the 33-family cooperative outright for $39 million. Senior Coca Cola executives say they already have a work plan for Tara for July, based on the assumption it is already a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The Tara union has made a number of demands prior to the sale, including a NIS 4 million grant and a 4 percent pay hike and a three-year moratorium on layoffs. Workers demonstrated outside cooperative's Tel Aviv factory and distributors disrupted deliveries last weekend, to make their point.

"We hope the sale process and all the signatures will be complete in July," a Coca Cola spokesman said. Tara stated the due diligence is close to completion and there are no substantial differences between the sides.