US-based The Coca-Cola Company has signed a binding agreement to acquire half of Saudi Arabian beverage company Aujan Industries for $980m.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2012. Coca-Cola will acquire 50 per cent of an Aujan entity that holds the rights to its brands and 49 per cent of Aujan’s bottling and distribution company.

Aujan Industries hopes that the transaction will provide a global platform to accelerate the growth of its brands, which includes Rani and Barbican. It is the largest investment by a multinational firm in the Middle East’s consumer goods sector.

“This partnership will allow us to unlock new and substantial opportunities. Drawing upon Aujan’s regional insights and the international capabilities of The Coca-Cola Company, Aujan is now positioned for even greater success in the region and internationally,” says Sheikh Adel Aujan, chairman of Aujan Industries.

The Coca-Cola Company will invest $5bn in the Middle East and North Africa region over the next 10 years.The Middle East has some of the highest rates of non-alcoholic drink consumption rates in the world.