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Lavazza invests in Green Mountain, announces collaboration

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), Waterbury, Vt., announced Luigi Lavazza S.p.A., Torino, Italy, will purchase $250 million in GMCR stock, which equates to a 7 percent stake in GMCR. The companies also announced that they are working together to develop new single-serve espresso machines and single-serve espresso capsules that Lavazza will manufacture.

The machines would complement GMCR’s line of Keurig single-cup coffee brewers, GMCR said.  The companies do not anticipate that the co-developed single-serve espresso machines will be available prior to GMCR’s fiscal year 2013.

“Lavazza’s investment in GMCR reflects their confidence in our strategy, vision and execution and provides enhanced financial flexibility to fund our growth and future enabling initiatives,” said Lawrence J. Blanford, president and chief executive officer of GMCR, in a statement. “We have developed an effective working relationship with Lavazza and, based on the impressive quality of the Lavazza people and technology, we believe there is a strong potential for a commercial alliance between GMCR and Lavazza that will leverage our complementary coffee systems and geographic strengths.”

The companies also said the agreement may provide GMCR the ability to distribute, market and sell existing espresso single-cup machines using Lavazza’s espresso technology for in-home use in the United States and Canada.

“The distribution agreement we expect to consummate in the near term should represent a unique opportunity to fully develop the potential of the authentic Italian espresso, and espresso-based beverages, in North America,” said Gaetano Mele, chief executive officer of Lavazza, in a statement. “We are confident that this investment is but the first step in a wider-ranging collaboration with GMCR in R&D, innovative technology and international expansion for both companies.”

The common stock purchase will provide Lavazza with an observer at GMCR board meetings and, in the future and under certain circumstances, a right to designate a board member. In addition, the agreement contains a five-and-a-half year customary standstill period, subject to certain exceptions after a one-year period, including the right to purchase additional shares up to 15 percent of GMCR’s outstanding shares.

The common stock purchase is subject to approval and is expected to close in September. GMCR intends to use the proceeds of the sale for general corporate purposes, including financing GMCR’s growth plans and enabling initiatives, the company said.
 

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