Coca-Cola is set to take a greater stake in Innocent

Coca-Cola is set to take a greater stake in Innocent

The Coca-Cola Co. has agreed a deal to increase its stake in UK smoothie and Veg pots maker Innocent as it looks to expand the brand internationally.

Innocent said on Friday (22 February) the US firm will buy the "majority" of the shares still owned by the company's founders and employees. Coca-Cola first took a stake in Innocent in 2009, then upped its stake to the current 58% in 2010.

Innocent did not reveal the exact stake level Coca-Cola is looking to acquire.

An Innoncent spokesperson told just-food sister site just-drinks the precise figure could not be revealed as "the deal is still awaiting approval from the relevant competition authorities".

The UK firm's founders will retain a minority equity holding and sit on a company executive committee.

Richard Reed, one of Innocent's co-founders, said the company had "flourished" since agreeing a deal with Coca-Cola four years ago. "Given the success of the relationship, they will be increasing their investment, supporting even more innovation and international expansion," he added.

"Importantly for us, the business will be run by a home-grown Innocent team in the same unique Innocent way, with the founders remaining involved to support the business in the years ahead.'

James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola's European operations, said: "We remain confident in the long-term growth potential of the company and the team and consider the brand values as fundamental to continued success.

"We are excited about the future and getting innocent's products to more people in more countries with the valuable input and continued support of the founders."