Nearly 20 years after starting Rockstar with $50,000 of his own money, Russ Weiner is handing the reins to Pepsi in a deal he envisions will make his flavored energy drink a household name even in the countries it has yet to reach.
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“Pepsi is going to make this a global powerhouse brand, and my legacy will be safe with them,” Russ Weiner told FOX Business in a phone interview Wednesday.
Launched in 2001, Rockstar is already available in 30 nations. Once the Pepsi deal is complete -- perhaps by the end of June, depending on government approvals -- the drink will have an even “bigger” presence, Weiner says.
”This is the perfect timing for Pepsi to take Rockstar to the next level,” he added.
Pepsi is paying $3.85 billion for Rockstar and providing roughly $700 million of payments related to tax benefits associated with the deal, according to a statement from the company.
The price tag makes the transaction the largest involving an individual non-alcoholic beverage brand to date, Weiner said. Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta called the acquisition "highly strategic," saying his company could accelerate Rockstar's performance while expanding in the lucrative energy-drink market with its own brands such as Mountain Dew.
"Over time, we expect to capture our fair share of this fast-growing, highly profitable category and create meaningful new partnerships in the energy space," he said.
The move will leave Rockstar's founder -- who marketed the world's first 16-ounce energy drink -- with a 9 million percent return on his initial investment, Weiner told FOX Business.
Rockstar received legal counsel from King & Spalding on the transaction. The firm's team included Russ Richards, Wayne Pressgrove and Jeff Spigel.
"PepsiCo shares our competitive spirit and will invest in growing our brand even further,” Weiner said. "I'm proud of what we built and how we've changed the game in the energy space.”
Now Weiner is ready to focus on his next project, he told FOX Business. "I want to do something to truly make the world a better place," he said.