Coca-Cola near deal for or­ganic juice com­pany Suja: sources

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

YORK: Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) is near­ing a deal to buy a mi­nor­ity stake in U.S. or­ganic juice com­pany Suja Life LLC, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said on Fri­day, as the soft drink gi­ant tries to iden­tify the next big hit with con­sumers. Car­bon­ated bev­er­ages have suf­fered from slow growth in re­cent years as con­sumer sen­ti­ment shifts to­ward health­ier bev­er­ages. Co­caCola's in­vest­ment would value Suja, a start-up that counts Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties as in­vestors, at around $300 mil­lion, the sources said.

The deal, which gives Coca-Cola the op­tion to buy the re­main­der of Suja in three years, would strengthen the At­lanta-based com­pany's hold on the cold-pressed juice sec­tor and bet­ter po­si­tion it to com­pete against Pep­siCo Inc's (PEP.N) Naked Juice brands. It would be Coca-Cola's sec­ond in­vest­ment in the sec­tor, fol­low­ing the pur­chase of Od­walla in 2001. The sources asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause the in­vest­ment is not yet public. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Coca-Cola and Suja did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Based in San Diego, Suja makes juices and smooth­ies un­der cold pres­sure to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria and pre­serve nu­tri­ents and taste. It sells its drinks through Su­, Ama­ Inc (AMZN.O) and at health food stores and na­tional gro­cery chains. Suja was founded in 2012 by en­trepreneurs An­nie Law­less, Eric Ethans, Jeff Church and James Bren­nan. Its in­vestors in­clude Al­liance Con­sumer Growth Part­ners and Evo­lu­tion Media Part­ners, as well as ac­tors Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto and Sofia Ver­gara. Co­caCola cre­ated a ven­ture and emerg­ing brands di­vi­sion in 2007 to find and in­vest in growth op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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