In its largest-ever brand acquisition, Coca-Cola has acquired full control of BodyArmor. The beverage company paid around USD 5.6 billion to buy full ownership of the sports drink maker. Coco-Cola had purchased a 15 per cent stake of BodyArmor in 2018. It became the second-largest stakeholder in the company then. The soda giant has now purchased the remaining 85 per cent stake. The acquisition valued the sports drink maker at approximately USD 8 billion. The acquisition will help Coca-Cola amp up its sport drink portfolio. This will also put the company in a better position against market leader PepsiCo Inc’s Gatorade which controls around 70 per cent of the market share. It is pertinent to mention that Coca-Cola had purchased Costa Coffee for USD 5.1 billion in 2018.
When Coca-Cola started investment in the company in 2015, basketball legend Kobe Bryant was the third-largest shareholder of BodyArmor. He had invested in the company in 2013. Bryant made an investment in the company just two years after it was founded. Reports suggest that the estate of the late NGA star is expected to get around USD 400 million from the sale. The deal comes at a time when the world’s largest beverage company was busy offloading or discontinuing several brands last year. The Atlanta-based beverage company discontinued its own Coca-Cola Plus Energy drink in North America so that it can focus on sodas. The deal is not entirely unexpected as the company had said in February this year that it is looking to buy a controlling interest in BodyArmor. Coke had said this in a pre-acquisition filing with the Federal Trade Commission.
Bodyarmor is the second-largest player in the sports drink category. However, Gatorade is far and away from the market leader. This is mainly because Gatorade has presented itself as a healthier sports drink. Coca-Cola has said that the retail sales of sports drink brands are expected to be over USD 1.4 billion. This would be around 50 per cent more than what the market saw last year. As part of the deal, Bodyarmor co-founder Mike Repole will collaborate with Coca-Cola’s non-alcoholic beverages. Vitaminwater, Smartwater, and Energy Brands, which were founded by Repole, will now be owned by Coke. Repole along with BodyArmor president Brend Hastie will join the company. They will help BodyArmor in its quest to beat Gatorade. Repole will act as a consultant for other parts of Coke’s portfolio. He said that the decision indicates that the company wants to do things differently.
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