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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Murnak: [QB] CCE TO BUY MAJORITY STAKE IN FLAVORED MILK MAKER Coca-Cola's biggest bottler is getting into milk. Coca-Cola Enterprises announced plans Thursday to spend $38 million to acquire a majority stake in Bravo Foods International, a little company that makes flavored milk drinks called Slammers. Both Coke and CCE are eager to expand into new niches, as consumption of carbonated soft drinks declines. The Coke system so far has had little success in dairy in the United States. Coke has previously launched flavored milk-based beverages Choglit and Swerve --- neither of which made much of a splash. Bravo's hook is to strike licensing deals with well-known brands. Its Slammers drinks feature Marvel comics superheroes like Spider-Man, as well as skateboarding stars and other well-known food brands such as Moon Pie and Starburst. The flavored milk niche is small but growing. Flavored milk sales grew 10.2 percent in 2004, even as the overall milk category slipped 1.2 percent, according to the Department of Agriculture. The flavored milk category includes regular milk that has to be refrigerated, as well as products like Slammers that are milk-based but don't have to refrigerated. CCE disclosed Thursday that it intends to acquire a stake in Bravo of just more than 50 percent. CCE also is negotiating with Bravo's management team for master distribution rights for the company's products. The deal is unique because the bottler itself, not big brother Coca-Cola, is poised to be the buyer of a brand. The normal pattern is for Coke to do the buying, or for CCE and Coke to combine on a deal. Coke could potentially still end up involved before the deal closes. Coke spokesman Dan Schafer declined to say whether Coke could eventually be involved, but noted the company still finds the milk category appealing. "As a system, we have long expressed interest in the milk category," he said. John Downs, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at CCE, said the company did the deal on its own partly to make it happen more quickly. "We were presented with this, and we wanted to move quickly, and right now, it is more of a distribution opportunity than a brand opportunity," he said. Bravo, based in North Palm Beach, Fla., distributes its products in the United States and in a handful of international markets. Domestically, drinks are sold at retailers including SuperTarget, A&P and 7-Eleven. Bravo, a public company that trades over the counter, has given guidance that it expects revenue of $13 million to $15 million this year. Copyright 2005 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution http://www.beverageworld.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4798 [/QB][/QUOTE]
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