PepsiCo buys Israeli company that was targeted by boycott movement – for $3.2 billion

by WorldTribune Staff, August 22, 2018

PepsiCo on Aug. 20 bought the Israeli carbonated drink company SodaStream for $3.2 billion.

SodaStream had long been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which heavily criticized the company for operating a factory in the West Bank. The BDS backlash led SodaStream to relocate the factory to Israel in 2014, resulting in 500 Palestinian employees losing their jobs.

SodaStream produces machines that allow people to make carbonated drinks in their own homes. / Getty Images

“Who is BDS?” SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said during an interview with Channel 10 news after the sale was announced.

“I think they have learned not to meddle with us. Look at what happened to SodaStream that they targeted, and what has happened to them,” he said.

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said that “BDS tried and failed to destroy SodaStream, now bought by PepsiCo. SodaStream, which formerly employed Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, and now hires Israeli Bedouin, is a champion of innovation and coexistence. The sale is a victory for Israel and a defeat for BDS.”

SodaStream, which produces machines that allow people to make carbonated drinks in their own homes, reported earlier this month a 31 percent year-over-year jump in revenues to $172 million, an 89 percent increase in profit to $32 million and an 82 percent jump in net profit to $26 million – the strongest results in the company’s history, Breitbart News reported.

Founded in 1991, SodaStream makes foot-and-a-half-tall machines that turn still water into seltzer in 30 seconds. The company also markets dozens of mix-in flavors, such as cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime and fruit punch. Its 3,500 employees produce about 500,000 devices per month, which are sold in 46 countries around the world, according to the Times of Israel.

Outgoing PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said the deal was “an inspired match” since both companies are looking to reduce waste.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the deal would “enrich the state’s coffers.”

“The recent large purchases of Israeli companies prove not only the technological capabilities but also the business capabilities that have developed in Israel,” he wrote.

Birnbaum said that not only will SodaStream stay in Israel, but the company expects to expand significantly.

Responding to a question posed by The Jerusalem Post, Birnbaum said that SodaStream had recently decided to build an additional factory in the Bedouin city of Rahat, close to its existing factory in Lehavim. The Rahat factory will employ a few hundred additional people from the Negev.

“PepsiCo is completely behind that program so we are not only restricting cutting, we are growing,” Birnbaum said. “This deal is an accelerator for the business. We are going to continue investing in Israel and we will grow as much as we need to grow to service the consumer.”

Deputy Director of the World Zionist Organization and Head of the Antisemitism Department Yaakov Haguel also hailed PepsiCo’s purchase of SodaStream.

“This is a day of celebration – this is a sign of victory against the BDS who are constantly fighting against blue-and-white companies, which proves that politics must be left aside and we must maintain robust trade,” Haguel said. “The stickers that are affixed to their products will say, ‘Made in Israel.’ This product is produced by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.’ ”

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