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Coke and Nestles getting together for tea in Tampa

A joint venture between Coca-Cola Co. and Nestle S.A. will make Tampa the home of its international headquarters. Coca-Cola Nestles Refreshments Co., which will market ready-to-drink coffee, tea and chocolate drinks, has opened a temporary office in Bayport Plaza in the Westshore area, said Chuck Stelter, vice president of public affairs for the new venture.

The company hasn't decided how many people will work in the office,, but initially it will be small, said Randy Donaldson, manager of public relations for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. A staff of about 10 executives recently was chosen to head the company.

Stelter said he is negotiating to lease between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet in Bayport Plaza.

Most of the employment for the new company will be in the manufacturing sites, where the drinks are prepared. Those sites will be scattered throughout the country.

The joint venture was formed to take advantage of Nestle's products and Coca-Cola's distribution system.

But if the new beverage products are successful, the Tampa office could grow to match that success.

Snaring the headquarters operation is somewhat of a coup for the Tampa area, which competed with other cities for the company. "We went through an analysis of several cities and Tampa came out on top," Stelter said.