Coke Buys Stake in U.K.'s Innocent

And the Smoothie Company Pledges to Stay That Way

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NEW YORK ( -- Coca-Cola is taking a minority stake in Innocent, a U.K.-based smoothie company known for its environmental bent and clever marketing. The investment is valued at about $45 million.


The move is the latest push into more-healthful beverages for Coke, which has seen its core soft-drink business slow in the U.S. and other markets. Last year, the company spent $43 million for a 40% stake in Honest Tea, a maker of premium and organic teas.

It has also snapped up Glaceau, maker of Vitaminwater, and Fuze Beverage in recent years. More recently, Coca-Cola offered $2.4 billion for China Huiyuan Juice Group. That deal was blocked by Chinese regulators.

In a release from Innocent, co-founder Richard Reed said the investment would be used to fund European expansion. He also sought to allay any fears loyal customers might have now that the 10-year-old company has teamed up with a global conglomerate.

"We will be the same people, in the same offices, making the same products in the same way," he said. "Every promise that Innocent has made -- about making only natural healthy products, pioneering the use of better, socially and environmentally aware ingredients, packaging and production techniques, donating money to charity and having a point of view on the world -- will remain."

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