Natural Foods Merchandiser

Business Roundup: Coca-Cola eyes Glaceau

The Coca-Cola Co. is in talks to acquire vitaminwater maker Glaceau, according to a Beverage Digest report last week. The publication attributed the information to anonymous sources who said negotiations were ongoing and that an announcement might be timed with a meeting of Coke's North American bottlers in Atlanta in early May.

It wasn't known whether Coke was interested in acquiring all of Glaceau or a significant stake. The deal is suggested to be worth $3 billion or more. Glaceau is a privately held company owned by a number of shareholders, including chief executive Darius Bikoff. The Tata Group in India, a conglomeration of 96 operating companies, including Tata Tea, invested $677 million in the company last August and now owns a 30 percent stake.

The report stated that Pepsi had also met with Glaceau and that Tata may participate in the buyout of Cadbury's Americas beverage business and put Glaceau into that deal, which could stop the Coke acquisition.

A spokeswoman for Glaceau would not confirm the report. "We do not comment on rumors," she said.

Whole Foods, Wild Oats merger delayed
Whole Foods Market, Inc. has extended the deadline on its tender offer to buy Wild Oats Markets, Inc., until May 22. The extension is the result of a request for additional information from the Federal Trade Commission. The offer had been set to expire April 24.

Whole Foods and Boulder-based Wild Oats announced merger plans in February in which Whole Foods would acquire Wild Oats for $18.50 per share, or about $565 million.

Wild Oats has 110 stores, and Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, has 191.

Clif Bar CEO steps down
Sheryl O'Loughlin has left Clif Bar & Co. after three years as CEO. Owners and founders Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford have resumed leadership of the privately held, Berkeley, Calif.-based company.

O'Loughlin joined Clif Bar—a leading manufacturer of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods and drinks—in 1998 as the head of brand marketing. She spearheaded the launch of LUNA, a whole nutrition bar for women, which was one of the first foods to specifically address the nutritional needs of women. Under her leadership as CEO, the company grew its product portfolio, increased the use of organic ingredients and achieved improved sustainability—both in terms of finances and a reduced footprint.

The 40-year-old said she left the company to spend more time with her two young sons and define the next phase of her career.

Steven Hoffman to head The Organic Center
The Organic Center named Steven Hoffman interim executive director, following the resignation of chief executive R. Mark Davis, who steps down May 15.

Hoffman helped launch the Rhode Island-based nonprofit, which uses peer-reviewed scientific information to promote organic farming.

He's been on the forefront of the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability movement since its inception. He serves on the board of the Naturally Boulder Task Force promoting the natural industry in Boulder, and is the former president of CORE, a sustainable business trade association in Colorado.

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