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Beverages

A-B Acquires Energy-Drink, Sparkling-Water Brands

Part of effort to invest in nonalcohol sector

ST. LOUIS -- Anheuser-Busch made another move into nonalcohol beverages with the purchase of an energy-drink and sparkling-water company.

The beer giant announced its purchase of Hiball on July 20. Hiball makes organic energy drinks and sparkling energy waters under the Hiball brand, as well as Alta Palla ("high ball" in Italian), a brand of organic sparkling juices and sparkling waters.

"Hiball's success in the energy and sparkling-water categories—two of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage industry—will further deepen A-B's investments in the no-alcohol sector,” the company said.

San Francisco-based Hiball was formed in 2005 when its founder and president, Todd Berardi, began selling the company's signature energy drinks out of the back of his car. The company now has 20 employees.

“The combination of Hiball's category-leading organic energy drinks and Alta Palla's organic sparkling juices and sparkling waters together with our network and operational know-how will create tremendous growth opportunities for these brands," said Joao Castro Neves, president and CEO, Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis. "Our goal is to deliver Hiball products to new markets, while preserving their culture and brand identities."

Anheuser-Busch plans a phased transition of the Hiball Energy and Alta Palla brands to it wholesaler partners.

The new drinks add to A-B's nonalcohol lineup, which includes ready-to-drink Teavana with Starbucks, 180 energy drinks and Icelandic Glacial Spring Water.

"Hiball Energy and Alta Palla are great additions to our developing no-alcohol portfolio, and we have been asking A-B for a partnership opportunity just like this," said David Stokes, chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel. "Adding these outstanding brands to our wholesaler system increases the breadth of our product portfolio and strengthens our network as we offer more innovation to our customers."

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