August 19, 2015 / 1:37 PM / 4 years ago

Coke takes minority stake in organic juice maker Suja

(Reuters) - Suja Life LLC said on Wednesday that it had sold minority stakes to Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (GS.N) merchant banking division and to Coca-Cola Co (KO.N), which will distribute its organic juices and smoothies.

A bottle of Coca-Cola is shown in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Details of the investments were not disclosed. Reuters reported earlier this month that Coca-Cola was nearing a deal to acquire a minority stake in Suja, valuing the company at about $300 million.

The deal illustrates Coca-Cola’s determination to get into fast-growing beverage categories amid sluggishness in its soft drinks business in recent years, especially in the U.S. market.

Coke said in a statement that its investment would expand its portfolio to “meet people’s varying beverage needs.”

It also would better position the Atlanta-based company to compete against PepsiCo Inc’s PEP.N Naked Juice brands.

Last year, Coca-Cola said it was buying a 16.7 percent stake in energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp (MNST.O).

It also invested in Honest Tea and Zico Coconut Water, eventually acquiring both companies.

Suja, which was founded in 2012 by four entrepreneurs, makes juices and smoothies under cold pressure to kill harmful bacteria and preserve nutrients and taste.

Investors in the San Diego-based company include Alliance Consumer Growth Partners and Evolution Media Partners, as well as actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto and Sofia Vergara.

Piper Jaffray & Co (PJC.N) advised Suja, and Giannuzzi Group LLP was its legal counsel.

Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa Von Ahn

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