Whitbread shareholders vote through Costa Coffee takeover by Coca-Cola

Whitbread shareholders have given their blessing to the £3.9bn (€4.46bn) sale of the Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola.

The Press Association understands that a provisional tally showed Whitbread investors voting in favour of the deal at a meeting on Wednesday.

A final vote tally is expected to be released to the market on Thursday morning.

The coffee shop to hotels group said earlier this year that it would split Costa and list it as a separate entity, following pressure from activist investor Elliott.

But in August the company announced the sale to Coca-Cola claiming it is “in the best interests of shareholders”.

Proceeds of the deal will be used to pay down debt and boost the pension fund.

Whitbread intends to return a significant majority of net cash proceeds to shareholders.

Whitbread will now turn its attention to its Premier Inn hotels business.

Whitbread acquired Costa in 1995 for £19m (€21.75m) from founders Sergio and Bruno Costa when it had only 39 shops.

It now has more than 2,400 outlets and is embarking on overseas expansion.

The deal comes hot the heels of another big money acquisition in the sector.

Pret A Manger was earlier this year sold by Bridgepoint for £1.5bn (€1.7bn) to a company controlled by JAB, the investment vehicle of Germany’s wealthy Reimann family.

- Press Association

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