ATLANTA: The Coca-Cola Company has slaked its thirst for a significant share of the US 'enhanced water' market with its costliest-ever acquisition.
Coke is to pay $4.1 billion (€3.04bn; £2.06bn) for New York-headquartered Glacéau and its brands Vitaminwater, Fruitwater and Energywater, which together command around 30% of the market.
Indian conglomerate Tata Group currently has a 30% stake in Glacéau, for which Coke is expected to pay around $1.2bn. Tata bought the holding last year for a modest $667 million.
The high value placed on Glacéau by Coke reveals the soft drinks giant's need to make up for lost time and market share as domestic consumers increasingly turn away from sodas to healthier beverage options.
Arch rival PepsiCo is already ahead of the game with its SoBe, Aquafina and Propel brands, which account for 45% of the US market.
Coke's chief operating officer Mohtar Kent says "active lifestyle beverages" accounted for 30% of total US soft-drink volumes in 2006, and were expected to generate about 50% of the industry's gross profits over the coming four years.
Highland Spring, which has a 24% share of the UK market, is owned by Dubai billionaire businessman Mahdi Al-Tajir, one of the ten richest foreigners resident in Britain.
Both companies dismiss the report as "speculation".
Data sourced from Financial Times Online and Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff