Tata Group Pays US$677M for 30% Stake in Vitaminwater-maker Energy Brands
NEW YORK (AP) - The Indian conglomerate, Tata Group, on Wednesday
said it would take a 30 per cent stake in Energy Brands Inc., maker
of Vitaminwater, a move designed to capitalize on the health-obsessiveness
of consumers that has driven sales growth of bottled water drinks.
Tata, which makes Tetley and Good Earth teas, said its board had approved
the $677-million-US purchase to buy out the stake owned by the TSG
Consumer Partners private-equity group.
"It's big step for us to be able to pursue our long-term plans," Darius
Bikoff, founder of Whitestone, N.Y.-based Energy Brands, said in a
Bikoff said the company's immediate task was increasing shelf space
in stores to meet demand for the company's Vitaminwater, Smartwater
and Fruitwater drinks, which Energy Brands sells under the brand name
"With this partnership, we'll have the resources to ensure people
can get Vitaminwater when and where they need it," he said, adding
that this year the company experienced growth of more than 100 per
Bikoff founded the company 10 years ago and said the transaction valued
it at $2.2 billion. He predicted Engergy Brands could reach a valuation
of $10.2 billion within three to five years through growth of about
70 per cent in U.S. sales alone.
"We get there through essentially filling the demand for product,"
Bikoff said Tata and his company share a common vision to make healthier
drinks, and he said Glaceau hopes to eventually enter the tea business,
of which Tata has a significant presence. The Indian company is the
world's second-largest tea producer and sells its product in 40 countries,
according to its website.
Merrill Lynch analyst Christine Farkas said in a research report Wednesday
that the ready-to-drink tea market "has staged a remarkable resurgence
since 2004, growing at double-digits annually."
She said four major sellers dominate the industry. Splitting about
95 per cent of the market are Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons, which makes
Arizona Beverages; PepsiCo Inc., which makes SoBe and Lipton iced
teas; Snapple-maker Cadbury Schweppes PLC and Coca-Cola Co., which
Bikoff also said he would consider partnering with beverage powerhouses
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) as distribution partners
to enable global expansion. A partnership with PepsiCo would mark
an improvement in Glaceau's relationship with the world's second-largest
PepsiCo settled a lawsuit with Energy Brands in early May over allegations
that its SoBe Life Water too closely imitated Glaceau's electrolyte-enhanced
Vitaminwater. Under the settlement, PepsiCo agreed to change the packaging
and cap of its drink, which Glaceau had called a "slavish knockoff."
Bikoff said the company this week would introduce smaller, 12-ounce
bottles to be sold in four-packs at Safeway and CVS stores initially,
before rolling out the new sizes nationally.
Mumbai-based Tata said the purchase strengthens its presence in the
U.S. and provides opportunities for global growth of its drinks business.
The Tata Group owns 93 operating companies spanning seven business
sectors and more than 40 countries. It had global revenue of $22 billion
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.