Coca-Cola May Boost Investment in China

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Coca-Cola Company (KO) may increase its spending in China, according to CEO Muhtar Kent.

Coke, the world's largest beverage company, will likely spend "a little more" than the $2 billion it had planned for China from 2009 to 2011, Kent told Bloomberg News.

"We're ahead of our projections in investments," Kent said.

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China's soft-drink market grew 11% in 2009, according to Euromonitor International. Sprite, a Coca-Cola drink, is the country's top-selling non-alcoholic beverage.

Coke currently has 41 bottling plants in China. The Atlanta-based company has accelerated investment in bottling, its distribution network and a $90 million research and development center in Shanghai, Kent said.

"There is a lot of wealth growth in western and central China, so there is a lot of room to grow as Coca-Cola's presence there is relatively small," said Ben Cavender, an analyst at China Market Research Group.

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