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Lawyer, Dr. J Take Over Coke Bottling Firm

December 19, 1985|Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — A New York lawyer-businessman joined basketball star Julius (Dr. J) Erving in taking over majority ownership Wednesday of the first black-controlled Coca-Cola bottling franchise in what was described as a multimillion-dollar deal.

J. Bruce Llewellyn, who has served as chairman of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., will become chief executive of the firm, which today does an annual gross business of more than $100 million.

Coca-Cola U.S.A., one of the world's largest companies, still owns about 48% of the business. But Tomas Orenstein, senior vice president, said that "we will sell off about two-thirds of that to other investors brought in by Llewellyn."

Llewellyn declined to give either the purchase price or his personal share. He did say that Erving, who has been a major commercial spokesman for Coke in recent years, will support the Philadelphia bottler in a variety of marketing roles.

The investment of Llewellyn and Erving, in buying the majority shares from Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York, gives them the largest minority ownership position of a bottling company in America's soft-drink industry.

Donald Keough, president of Coca-Cola, said in a statement: "We have sought to provide minority firms with a fair position in the U.S. marketplace overall and especially within our own operations. We are proud to extend the ownership of one of our largest soft-drink bottling companies to the Llewellyn-Erving investor group."

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