The Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and Whitestone, N.Y.-based BODYARMOR announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement through which The Coca-Cola Co. will acquire a minority ownership stake in BODYARMOR. Through the agreement, BODYARMOR will have the opportunity to gain access to the Coca-Cola bottling system, enabling the fast-growing brand to accelerate its growth to meet explosive consumer demand for its premium line of sports performance and hydration drinks.

The initial investment is structured to create value for both companies and allow The Coca-Cola Co. to increase its ownership stake in the future under defined terms, the company says. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The BODYARMOR investment will be part of the Coca-Cola North America Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) investment portfolio. The brand will continue to operate independently with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has made it so successful under the leadership of Co-Founder and Chairman Mike Repole and his BODYARMOR management team, according to the company.

“In a fast-moving and dynamic industry, and during a time of unprecedented change at Coca-Cola, we’re challenging the status quo and bringing innovative, boundary-less thinking to our strategic relationships to ensure we are offering the products consumers want,” said Coca-Cola North America President Jim Dinkins, in a statement. “BODYARMOR is one of the fastest growing beverage trademarks in America and competes in exciting categories. I have no doubt it will prove to be a strong offering to our system alongside our already powerful hydration portfolio as we accelerate our position as a total beverage company.”

Repole added: “BODYARMOR is revolutionizing the beverage industry by providing the hydration that more and more of today’s athletes want and need. We are confident that this agreement gives us the best opportunity to significantly accelerate our mission to make BODYARMOR the world’s best premium sports performance and hydration brand. This is thanks to the strength and scale of Coca-Cola’s newly refranchised and energized bottling system in North America, as well as longer-term opportunities for international growth.”

The BODYARMOR trademark features properties such as BODYARMOR Sports Drink, BODYARMOR LYTE Sports Drink and BODYARMOR SportWater. Created by co-founders  Repole and Lance Collins, BODYARMOR Sports Drink is available in 12 flavors and is favored by many athletes, having assembled an impressive team of young, superstar athletes including James Harden, Mike Trout, Dustin Johnson, Andrew Luck and Skylar Diggins-Smith. In 2013, Kobe Bryant became the No. 3 shareholder in the company and has been an integral part of the success of the brand with his involvement in creative, marketing and partnerships, the company says. Bryant will continue to be heavily involved in the brand, especially as BODYARMOR expands to global markets in the future, it adds.

In 2017, BODYARMOR launched BODYARMOR LYTE Sports Drink, which has all the nutrients of BODYARMOR but is naturally sweetened and has only 20 calories and 3 grams of sugar in each serving. In 2018, BODYARMOR SportWater, a premium water designed by athletes for athletes, with a performance pH of 8+ and electrolytes, became available.

Repole has had success co-founding and incubating other brands including smartwater and vitaminwater, which joined the Coca-Cola portfolio in 2007, and have since become billion-dollar brands with global availability.

"I am extremely excited about this agreement because the Coca-Cola system has an amazing track record of growing explosive brands that consumers love and allowing entrepreneurial start-ups like BODYARMOR to continue to be independent and focused on achieving the aggressive growth goals that we set out to achieve when we launched this amazing brand in 2011," Repole said.

Through the transaction, The Coca-Cola Co. will become the second largest share owner in BODYARMOR, behind Repole.