Coca-Cola buys remaining BodyArmor stake for $5.6 billion

Coca-Cola first acquired a 15% stake in the sports drink company back in 2018

Coca-Cola has acquired full control of BodyArmor, a line of sports performance and hydration beverages, for $5.6 billion in cash.

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On Monday, the soda giant announced it would be purchasing the remaining 85% of BodyArmor after taking a 15% stake in 2018, marking its largest brand acquisition to date. The acquisition values BodyArmor at approximately $8 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Under the agreement, BodyArmor will be managed as a separate business within Coca-Cola North America's operating unit and will continue to be based in Queens, New York. It also will continue to be distributed by the U.S. Coca-Cola bottling system. 

The late Kobe Bryant in a June 7, 2009, file photo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The estate of Kobe Bryant, who became the third largest BodyArmor shareholder in 2013, stands to collect roughly $400 million for its stake, people familiar with the matter told the Journal. 

"If it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant’s vision and belief, BODYARMOR would not have been able to achieve the success we had," BodyArmor co-founder and chairman Mike Repole said in a statement. "I couldn’t be more excited to become part of the Coca-Cola family and set our sights on the future."

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Repole and BodyArmor president Brent Hastie have committed to help execute the brand's growth plans for 2022 and continue working on its vision and strategy for 2023 and beyond. In addition, Repole, who previously founded VitaminWater and Smartwater parent Glaceau, also now owned by Coca-Cola, will collaborate with the company on its still beverages portfolio, including marketing, packaging and innovation strategies across multiple brands.

BodyArmor, which is currently the second largest player in the sports drink category behind PepsiCo's Gatorade, has generated more than $1.4 billion in retail sales, up about 50% this year. The company was founded in 2011.

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Coca-Cola has been shaking up its brand portfolio since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In October 2020, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said the company would kill off approximately 200 drink brands in an effort to focus on brands "that can be scaled to drive profits for the long term." 

Brands retired by the company include Tab diet soda, ZICO coconut water, Odwalla, Coca-Cola Life, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Sprite Lymonade and the short-lived Coca-Cola Energy.