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August 19, 2022

Keurig Dr Pepper cools Bang takeover talk

The two firms had been linked with a possible US$2-3bn deal.

By James Beeson

Keurig Dr Pepper has poured cold water on speculation it is in talks to buy Bang energy drinks owner Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX).

In a statement issued on Friday (19 August), a spokesperson said the soft drinks and caffeine beverage brand owner is “currently not pursuing an acquisition”.

The statement followed a report from Bloomberg, which stated the two companies were in early discussions that would have seen Keurig Dr Pepper acquire VPX. In an article also published on Friday, Bloomberg reported the two companies had broken off talks after news of the deal became public.

The Keurig Dr Pepper spokesperson said the company was pursuing growth “through M&A and brand/distribution partnerships”.

“As we have shared numerous times, our top capital allocation priority is growing our business through M&A and brand/distribution partnerships and, as such, we continue to be quite active in evaluating opportunities that arise,” the spokesperson said.

Bang was created in 2012 and was introduced to the US market by VPX as a low-sugar carbonated energy drink. VPX has production facilities in Florida and Arizona.

In April 2020, the company entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with PepsiCo, which saw the Pepsi Max owner become the exclusive distributor for Bang in the US. The deal quickly turned sour, however, with VPX filing a lawsuit in which it accused PepsiCo of intimidation tactics and of “gross misconduct” in the distribution of Bang.

An arbitration ruling meant VPX was forced to continue using PepsiCo as its distributor until October 2023 but the dispute was later resolved, allowing VPX to leave the exclusive agreement in June of this year.

VPX has not responded to Just Drinks’ requests for comment.

M&A activity in the Energy drinks category has been buoyant in recent years. Last year, The Coca-Cola Co. completed the purchase of sports beverage brand Bodyarmor in a deal worth US$5.6bn. Last month, PepsiCo, which already owns the Rockstar Energy brand, took an 8.5% stake in Celsius for US$550m.

Monster Energy, which is itself part-owned by The Coca-Cola Co., has also been the subject of speculation linking it with a possible merger with Constellation brands.

Is energy drinks experiencing a second coming? – comment

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