ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Co. is buying juice maker Odwalla Inc. in a $181 million deal that gives the world’s biggest soft drink company a stronger foothold in the market for noncarbonated beverages.
Under the deal announced Tuesday, Odwalla will become part of Coke’s Minute Maid juice division. California-based Odwalla makes juice blends, smoothies and fortified health drinks and will retain its current management.
Don Short, chief executive of Minute Maid, said acquiring Odwalla strengthens Coke’s opportunity for growth in new beverage categories.
“Odwalla’s talented and proven people have built unique brands with loyal followings,” he said in a statement. “The innovation and expertise of the Odwalla team coupled with our innovation and logistics network are key to expanding the brands they have created and nurtured.”
Odwalla, based in Half Moon Bay, Calif., markets its drinks under the Odwalla and Samantha labels. Its chief executive Stephen Williamson said he felt “the entrepreneurial spirit of Odwalla will be nurtured by the opportunity for growth that this new relationship presents.”
Coke recently scrapped a deal with Procter & Gamble to market products such as Minute Maid juice and Pringles potato chips jointly.
Odwalla posted $98 million in revenue for the first nine months of fiscal year 2001. It had revenue of $93 million for all of 2000.
Coke will pay $15.25 a share in cash for all of Odwalla’s outstanding common stock. The boards of Atlanta-based Coke and California-based Odwalla approved the deal Tuesday.
In morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, Odwalla shares climbed 27.8 percent, or $3.29, to $15.12. Coca-Cola shares were down 77 cents at $47.84 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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