Exclusive-Warburg Pincus-backed firm buys Odwalla brand from Coca-Cola

(Reuters) - Full Sail IP Partners, a Warburg Pincus-backed investment firm that acquires brands, told Reuters it has bought the rights to Odwalla from Coca-Cola Co in a bid to revive the juice and smoothie label that the soft drinks giant discontinued last year.

This is the first acquisition Full Sail IP Partners has made since its launch as a joint venture between Warburg Pincus and brand licensing consultant LMCA in April. The financial terms of the deal, which does not include production and delivery of Odwalla, were not disclosed.

Full Sail Partners plans to popularize Odwalla, which was founded in 1980, by marketing products under the brand with health benefits, including low sugar drinks, its CEO Alan Kravetz said in an interview. It also expects to expand beyond the beverage category into food and supplements, as well as adopting a direct to consumer strategy.

“We think that nutrition, health, wellness, vitamins, minerals - ingredients that really provide health benefits, in addition to tasting good - are the wave of the future. We intend to include them in the Odwalla products,” Kravetz said.

Full Sail IP Partners is also scouting for companies in other industries, from consumer electronics to enterprise businesses.

“There are brands out there that have been owned by large companies that don’t fit their strategy going forward. And being smaller and more narrowly focused, we can develop these brands in a way a larger company can’t,” said Kravetz.

Once Nasdaq-listed Odwalla was bought by Coca-Cola for $181 million in 2001. Its popularity waned over time.

Last month, PepsiCo sold Tropicana, Naked and other North American juice brands for $3.3 billion to French private equity firm PAI Partners.

Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Mark Potter