The dispute over Arizona Beverages dates back about a decade

The dispute over Arizona Beverages dates back about a decade

Arizona Beverages' co-founder may have to pay his former partner US$1bn to take full control of the firm after a judge valued it at twice that amount, according to reports.

Domenick Vultaggio has been trying to buy John Ferolito's equal 50% stake in Arizona for about a decade but the two sides have failed to agree on how much their company is worth. The dispute went to court in 2010, and yesterday a New York state judge said that a “back of-the-envelope calculation” puts the value at $2bn, the Wall Street Journal reported

Arizona Beverages has so far declined to comment on yesterday's ruling.

The preliminary valuation is less than the $3.2bn Ferolito claims the company is worth, but more than Vultaggio's $426m price tag.

The judge yesterday reportedly ordered both parties to return to court next month for a more exact valuation. He will also fix buyout conditions to allow a sale that so far has been blocked by an earlier ruling. Both parties have the right to appeal.

The judge reportedly factored in to his valuation of Arizona Beverages previous takeover interest from rival drinks firms including The Coca-Cola Co and Nestle.

The judge's valuation is based on the company's position in 2010, however since then Arizona has released a range of new products and teamed up with TV host Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl brand over a range of low-calorie flavoured waters in the US.

UPDATE (16 October): A spokesperson for Arizona Beverages sent just-drinks the following statement:

"Arizona welcomes the fact that the court rejected the insane and fabricated valuations proposed by Ferolito while recognizing the true uniqueness of AriZona. Certain serious issues remain, which need to be fixed by the court or on appeal. The court specifically said that it will address 'the ability of Arizona to pay' in a later proceeding - in a way, we trust, that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of nearly 1,000 employees."