A second suit has been filed in the area's battle of the bottlers.
Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which is challenging Allegheny Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. in the mid-Atlantic area, has filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking to block Allegheny's proposed merger with The Macke Company.
Among other things, the Mid-Atlantic suit charges that the merger would result in anticompetitive practices in vending operations, reflecting concern that the merged companies would deep competing colas and other products out of its vending machines.
The suit asks for an injunction against the merger, which is scheduled to be voted on by Macke's shareholders on Jan. 29. It also asks that Allegheny be required to divest itself of Macke stock and ordered to pay unspecified damages.
"The proposed acquisition of Macke by Allegheny does not violate any law and the allegations of the suit are without merit," said Allegheny vice president Harry J. Conn. "The Mid-Atlantic action appears nothing more than a further interference in Allegheny's lawful business activities."
Mid-Atlantic president James J. Harford said the Coca-Cola bottler would have no comment on the pending litigation.
The filing of the suit by Mid-Atlantic on Dec. 31 follows a lawsuit filed by Allegheny in which Mid-Atlantic was the target. In that suit Allegheny alleged that the Coca-Cola bottler is trying to drive Allegheny out of the Virginia and Maryland soft drink market by cutting cola prices, giving away free cold drink machines and selling drinks for less than it costs to produce them.
The earlier suit, filed late in November, charged that not only was Mid-Atlantic trying unfairly to momopolize the market but also was ear-marked to prived an executive job for Coca-Cola Chairman J. Paul Austin after retirement from the parent company.
Mid-Atlantic was formed last summer by putting together the formerly corporately owned Baltimore Coca-Cola bottling company with Crass Company frachises in Washington, Richmond and Norfolk.
Also last summer Allegheny gained control of Macke, a successful Washington-based vending machine company nearly double Alleghey's size. Macke's major shareholders at first resisted the takeover attempt but later acceded to it in an agreement reached on Oct. 9.
Counsel for Allegheny and Macke said they see no merit in the Mid-Atlantic action and don't believe it will interfere with the merger. Macke shareholders will vote on a proposal to end Macke's independent exeistence in exchange for a payment of $14.50 a share for Macke common stock by Allegheny. Allegheny already owns approximately 35 percent of Macke's common stock.