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Coke eyes Monster opportunity to energize growth


The Coca-Cola Company plans to acquire a 16.7% interest in Monster Beverage Corporation in an unconventional partnership arrangement involving brands, global distribution and $2.15 billion in cash.

The companies entered into a long-term strategic partnership designed to leverage their respective strengths — Coke’s worldwide bottling system and Monster’s expertise in the energy segment of the beverage category — to accelerate growth globally.

In addition to acquiring a 16.7% interest in Monster for $2.15 billion, Coca-Cola will gain two seats on Monster’s board of directors and the companies will engage in a big brand swap. Coca-Cola will transfer ownership of its worldwide energy business and brands such as NOS, Full Throttle, Burn, Mother, Play and Power Play, and Relentless, to Monster. In return, Monster will transfer its non-energy business, including Hansen’s Natural Sodas, Peace Tea, Hubert’s Lemonade and Hansen’s Juice Products, to Coca-Cola.

The intent of the brand exchange is to align product portfolios and enable those portfolios to benefit from each company’s respective brand marketing, production and distribution strengths and optimize the parties’ capital and resource allocation, according to the companies.

Another key aspect of the deal relates to distribution. Coca-Cola will become Monster’s preferred distribution partner globally and Monster will become Coca-Cola’s exclusive energy play.

“The Coca-Cola Company continues to identify innovative approaches to partnerships that enable us to stay at the forefront of consumer trends in the beverage industry,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola. “Our equity investment in Monster is a capital efficient way to bolster our participation in the fast-growing and attractive global energy drinks category.”

Kent added that, “Monster has been an important part of our global system since 2008, so we have experienced first-hand Monster’s performance-driven and entrepreneurial culture, proven success in building and extending the Monster brand and their strong product innovation pipeline.”

Monster chairman and CEO Rodney Sacks characterized the deal as a unique opportunity for the company to drive global growth.

“We gain enhanced access to The Coca-Cola Company’s distribution system, the most powerful and extensive system in the world. At the same time, we become The Coca-Cola Company’s exclusive energy play, with a robust portfolio led by our Monster Energy line and The Coca-Cola Company’s energy brands,” Sacks said. “Our business will be bolstered by The Coca-Cola Company energy brands we will acquire, providing us with complementary energy product offerings in many geographies, as well as access to new channels, including vending and specialty accounts.”

By leveraging Coca-Cola’s global distribution and bottling system, Monster vice chairman and president Hilton Schlosberg said Monster’s position as one of the world’s leading energy beverage companies would be greatly enhanced, producing myriad benefits for shareholders.

“We expect the transaction to significantly accelerate our growth and results of operations internationally, and we plan to review all options available to return a substantial amount of cash to our shareholders,” Schlosberg said.

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