PepsiCo Inc. is selling Tropicana, Naked and other juice brands to French private equity firm PAI Partners for about $3.3 billion as it seeks to bolster its balance sheet and focus on healthier snacks and zero-calorie drinks.
The U.S. drinks giant will retain a 39% noncontrolling interest in a new holding company for the brands and has also granted PAI an irrevocable option to buy certain juice businesses in Europe, according to a statement .
PepsiCo said it plans to use the proceeds from the deal to strengthen its balance sheet and invest in the wider business.
Paris-based PAI is an experienced investor in the food and beverage space and is behind Refresco, the biggest independent bottler of beverages globally. PAI’s proposed joint venture with PepsiCo is similar to one it created when it merged its R&R ice-cream business with large parts of Nestle’s ice-cream division to create Froneri.
“This joint venture with PAI enables us to realize significant upfront value, while providing the focus and resources necessary to drive additional long-term growth for these beloved brands,” PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta said in the statement.
“In addition, it will free us to concentrate on our current portfolio of diverse offerings, including growing our portfolio of healthier snacks, zero-calorie beverages, and products like SodaStream which are focused on being better for people and the planet,” he said.
The PepsiCo juice businesses delivered about $3 billion in net revenue in 2020. Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston noted in an interview that the margins for the business are lower than PepsiCo’s average, and so the deal will “incrementally benefit margins.”
“The juice category has obviously had some challenges over the past 10 or so years, and recently as the business gained a little bit of momentum and we started to think about where we wanted to prioritize our efforts, we made a decision that it might make sense for someone else to run Tropicana,” Johnston said.
The deal allows PepsiCo to focus its efforts elsewhere in its portfolio, while still enjoying some of the juice division’s revenue. The Purchase, New York-based company will also continue in a distribution role, Johnston said, with the joint venture selling products to PepsiCo, and PepsiCo distributing to smaller stores and restaurants along with other venues.
Centerview Partners LLC is financial adviser to PepsiCo, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. is advising PAI. The transaction is expected to close in late 2021 or early 2022.