FBI officials quietly approached executives at Coca-Cola Co. onMarch 15, 2009, with some startling news.

Hackers had broken into the company's computer systems and werepilfering sensitive files about its attempted $2.4 billionacquisition of China Huiyuan Juice Group, according to three peoplefamiliar with the situation and an internal company documentdetailing the cyber intrusion. The Huiyuan deal, which collapsedthree days later, would have been the largest foreign takeover of aChinese company at the time.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft-drink maker, has neverpublicly disclosed the loss of the Huiyuan information, despite itspotential effect on the deal. It is just one in a global barrage ofcorporate computer attacks kept secret from shareholders,regulators, employees — and in some cases even from seniorexecutives.

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