Coca-Cola to buy Costa coffee chain for $7.6 billion

Coca-Cola is to plug a gap in its portfolio with the acquisition of the Costa coffee brand from British firm Whitbread for 3.9 billion pounds ($NZ7.6 billion) in cash.

The deal represents a big return to Whitbread, which bought Costa in 1995 for 19 million pounds. Since then, Costa has grown from just 39 shops to become the biggest coffee firm in Britain. In recent years, Whitbread has invested heavily in Costa's expansion overseas.

James Quincey, Coca-Cola President & CEO, said Friday that Costa will give the company "new capabilities and expertise in coffee."

Hot beverages, he said, is one of "the few remaining segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand."

The deal is expected to complete in the first half of 2019.

Beckenham, England - May 8, 2011: Projecting sign on a branch of the Costa Coffee chain of coffee shops, in Beckenham, Kent (South East London). Costa Coffee was set up in 1971 in Lambeth, south London, by brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa who supplied caterers and coffee shops from their coffee roastery. They expanded into retailing in 1978, opening their first shop in Vauxhall and the company (now owned by Whitbread) has around 1175 outlets in the UK.
Costa Coffee shop in England (file picture). Source: istock.com



Bert and Ernie aren't gay, Sesame Street insists as persistent puppet sexuality rumours swell again

On again off again gay rights icons Bert and Ernie aren't gay. Repeat: The famous puppets are not in a same-sex relationship.

That's the word from the producers of Sesame Street, who had to quell rumours about the duo's personal life yet again today after the theory - oft repeated over the show's nearly 50-year history -- was stoked by an interview with a former writer.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were (gay)," said Mark Saltzman, who wrote for the show throughout most of the 1980s, in an interview with LGBTQ website Queerty.

"I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple... Because how else?"

Mr Saltzman said he was inspired to write their loving interactions and minor quibbles by his own relationship.

But in a tweet this morning, Sesame Street issued a statement insisting that "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation".

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," producers said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves."

A writer previously revealed he wrote the roommates as a gay couple, but Sesame Workshop says none of the show’s puppets have a sexual orientation. Source: 1 NEWS

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No vacancy: Curious mountain lion wanders around Colorado motel

A mountain lion has been caught on a surveillance camera dashing to the doorstep of a Colorado motel office, venturing toward the open doorway and then wandering away.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay says nobody was hurt in the Sept. 9 encounter.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported Tuesday the lion approached the Foot of the Mountain Motel on Boulder's west side. Just after entering the camera's view, the lion pauses, as if startled.

Clay says that was when the lion spotted motel guests with with a dog on a leash.

Clay says the guests and their dog returned to their room and there was no trouble.

The lion thought better of kipping down for the night at the Foot of the Mountain Motel. Source: Associated Press

In August, a mountain lion entered a Boulder home and killed a house cat, and another was tranquilized and relocated from under a porch.


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McDonald's workers across US protest sexual harassment

McDonald's workers are staging protests in several cities in what organisers called the first multistate strike seeking to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

In Chicago, several dozen protesters rallied today in front of McDonald's headquarters while a plane flew overhead with a banner reading, "McDonald's: Stop Sexual Harassment."

In New Orleans, current and former employees chanted, "Hey, McDonalds, you can't hide — we can see your nasty side."

Those are among 10 targeted cities. Other protests were held in St. Louis; Kansas City, Missouri; and Durham, North Carolina.

Protesters are demanding that McDonalds require anti-harassment training for managers and employees. The fast food chain defends its policies.

Another demand is forming a national committee to address sexual harassment, made up of workers, management and leaders of national women's groups.

Current and former McDonald's employees wear tape with "#MeToo" over their mouths as they up to one of their restaurants for a protest in New Orleans. Source: Associated Press


Kiwi chocolatier Whittaker's takes leap into ice cream bars

Kiwi chocolate company Whittaker's is expanding from the lollies aisle, with an eye on dominating the freezer sections of supermarkets and dairies as well.

Starting Monday, Tip Top will offer three new flavours of ice cream bars featuring the brand: chocolate and pretzel, coffee and cacao and vanilla and cashew praline.

"It's the moment you've been waiting for...two iconic Kiwi brands coming together to combine the best of both worlds," Tip Top announced on its Facebook page this morning.

Unlike previous collaborations, the flavours are a permanent addition to the Tip Top range, a Whittaker's official told the New Zealand Herald.

"We've always had a dream to be able to create a delicious ice cream with somebody," said Whittaker's marketing manager Jasmine Currie.

Auckland fans of the brands will have an opportunity to get an early taste of the ice creams on Saturday, with a pop-up store opening at midday in Newmarket.

kiwi companies Whittaker's and Tip Top have collaborated for three new ice cream bars. Source: Tip Top