- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BEIJING (AP) - China has rejected Coca-Cola Co.’s $2.5 billion bid to buy a major Chinese juice producer, the Commerce Ministry announced Wednesday, in a closely watched case that stirred nationalist opposition.

The purchase of Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd. would have been the biggest foreign acquisition of a Chinese company to date.

The proposed purchase was rejected on anti-monopoly grounds, the Commerce Ministry said on its Web site.

Coca-Cola’s bid in September prompted an outcry by nationalists who urged the government to bar foreigners from acquiring one of China’s most successful homegrown brands. Rival juice producers warned that the acquisition would give Coca-Cola too dominant a position in China’s beverage market.

A Coca-Cola spokesman in Hong Kong learned of the rejection from a reporter and had no immediate comment.

Huiyuan’s founders and major shareholders already had endorsed the sale.

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