As Coca-Cola Co. opened its new $90 million innovation and technology center in Shanghai, China, on March 6, the Atlanta-based beverage giant also said it would invest $2 billion more in the country over the next three years.

The money will go toward new plant and distribution infrastructure, sales and marketing and research and development, Coca-Cola President and CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement.

The total more than doubles what Coke has invested in China in the three decades since re-establishing operations there.  Since 1979, Coke has spent $1.6 billion in China, which has become its third largest market.

“Coca-Cola is proud to be a long-term partner of China, and our commitment and confidence in China never wavers,” Mr. Kent said at the opening of the new center.

The $2 billion investment plan comes on top of the company’s pending $2.4 billion bid to buy Huiyuan Beverage Group Ltd., a Chinese juice company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The deal awaits regulatory approval from the Chinese government.  It would be Coke’s largest overseas acquisition to date.

Coke’s new Global Innovation and Technology Center in Shanghai, which was somewhat overshadowed by Mr. Kent’s broader announcement, is five times larger than its old R&D center there.

The building is certified as a “green” facility according to international sustainable development rating standards.  Solar panels on the roof reduce electricity consumption, and rain and waste water will be captured, treated and reused for landscaping.

About 600 employees work at the center and its adjoining offices. 

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