PepsiCo to buy SodaStream for $3.2 billion

Beverage and snack giant PepsiCo announced Monday plans to acquire at-home carbonated drink-maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion.

The Purchase, New York-based company agreed to pay $144 per share in cash for SodaStream’s outstanding stock, a 32 percent premium to its 30-day volume weighted average price.

The deal gives Pepsi a new line through which it can reach customers in their homes, rather than through stores. It comes as U.S. grocers are in a state of transformation, with 70 percent of shoppers expected to buy groceries online by 2025, according to Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen. Meantime, retailers are squeezing brands on price and giving increasing shelf-space to upstart and private label brands.

“We get to play in a business — home beverages — where we don’t play,” PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston told CNBC.

With this move, PepsiCo is a doubling down on its drinks business, which has struggled in North America as consumers move away from sugary, carbonated beverages.

Tel Aviv-based SodaStream makes a machine and refillable cylinders through which users can make their own soda or carbonated water drinks.

The acquisition is one of the boldest moves that CEO Indra Nooyi has made in her 12-year tenure as CEO. Nooyi, who earlier this month announced her plans to step down, stewarded the company’s shift away from sugary products and introduced healthier alternatives. She also spent years warding off pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, whose presence cast a close eye on dealmaking.

PepsiCo President Ramon Laguarta, 54, will succeed the 62-year-old Nooyi effective Oct. 3.

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” Laguarta said in a statement. “…PepsiCo is finding new ways to reach consumers beyond the bottle.”

For SodaStream, the deal is a further chance to broaden its reach through Pepsi’s global footprint. It now distributes in 80,000 individual retail stores across 45 countries. Its biggest markets are Germany, France, Canada and the U.S.

The company helped create the market for in-home soda-making, but in recent years has promoted the product as a tool to make carbonated water, accommodating for changing tastes. Those efforts appear to have borne fruit with the company earlier this month reporting strong quarterly earnings that crushed estimates. The company tripled its earnings forecast for the year and the news sent SodaStream shares up more than 26 percent. Sales of its machines rose 22 percent in the quarter, to more than 1 million, while sales of gas refill units grew 17 percent, to a record 9.7 million.

Prior to the deal’s announcement, SodaStream shares had gained nearly 85 percent since the beginning of the year.

Pepsi has made its own efforts at sparkling water, launching Bubly earlier this year to help fight against LaCroix.

SodaStream has had a longstanding relationship with Pepsi. It began selling caps for Pepsi and Sierra Mist drinks on the platform in 2015. As a result, there has long been speculation that Pepsi would acquire the company.

“We’ve been on and off talking to [SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum,] for a couple of years, not just on acquiring them … he got convinced the cultural fit would be good,” said Johnston.

The deal came together in a “matter of weeks,” Johnston said. Birnbaum will remain with the company when the deal closes.

SodaStream is not the first drink appliance brand to be caught up in dealmaking as changing retail forces prompt food and beverage companies to rethink distribution. Keurig Green Mountain last month closed its acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple, combining Dr Pepper Snapple’s retail distribution with Keurig’s single-serve business. Keurig Dr Pepper will also have access to the coffee brands and restaurants that its parent, JAB Holding, owns.

Keurig shut down its own attempt at an in-home carbonated water system, Keurig Kold, in 2016. Unlike Keurig, SodaStream does not use pods for its drinks, which it touts as a more environmentally friendly option.

Pepsi’s acquisition of SodaStream is expected to close by January 2019, subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote and certain regulatory approvals.

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