Whitbread's sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola has been cleared by the European Union.
The hospitality group said that it now expected the £3.9b sale to occur in January. Whitbread added that the sale would trigger a £500m share buyback programme in order to return "a significant majority of the net proceeds to shareholders".
The deal, which was agreed unanimously by the Whitbread board in August, is worth 16.4 times the Costa's EBITDA for 2018. It marks Coca-Cola's first foray into the global hot drink sector.
Speaking when the deal was first announced Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain said: "I am delighted that we have agreed the sale of Costa to Coca-Cola for £3.9b. This transaction is great news for shareholders as it recognises the strategic value we have developed in the Costa brand and its international growth potential and accelerates the realisation of value for shareholders in cash."
Coca-Cola president and CEO James Quincey said that the deal provided the business with "new capabilities and expertise in coffee" adding that there were plans to "grow the Costa brand worldwide".
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