Bai Brands

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (NYSE: DPS) has agreed to purchase the majority stake it did not already own in Bai Brands LLC, antioxidant beverage company, in a deal valued at $1.7 billion in cash. The deal is expected to grow the buyer’s "better-for-you" beverage products.

Bai manufacturers healthy, "all-natural" drinks in cans and bottles. The Princeton, New Jersey-based target makes carbonated water, low-calorie juice and tea in an assortment of flavors including: congo apple pear, kula watermelon, Tanzania lemonade tea, Andes coconut lime, and Ipanema pomegranate. As part of the deal, Bai will operate within the DPS’ packaged beverages division and will continue to be led by founder Ben Weiss.

The target’s enhanced water, carbonated flavored water, coconut water, and premium ready-to-drink teas will help DPS meet the growing consumer demand for healthier beverage options. DPS, the Plano, Texas maker of soft drink brands 7UP and Schweppes, has had a partnership with Bai since signing a national distribution deal with the target in 2014. DPS later invested $15 million into the Bai brand for a minority stake. The current deal is DPS’s first major acquisition since spinning off from Cadbury Schweppes in 2008.

The mid-market healthy and better-for-you foods sector have been seeing robust deal activity. Related deals include: General Atlantic’s minority investment in Joe & the Juice, a chain of urban juice and coffee bars; Danone’s $10 billion purchase of WhiteWave Foods Co. (NYSE: WWAV), the owner of the Silk soy milk brand, to expand in organic foods; Milk Hain Celestial Group Inc.’s (Nasdaq: HAIN) acquisition of fruit company Orchard House Foods Ltd.;  Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Co. Inc.’s buying natural food provider Panos Brands LLC; and Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF) purchased the maker of Smart Balance spreads.

Credit Suisse Securities LLC (NYSE: CS) is acting as financial adviser to Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP is serving as legal counsel. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (NYSE: JPM) is serving as financial adviser to Bai and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal counsel. The deal is expected to close by the first quarter of 2017.

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