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Coca Cola buys stake in Britain s drinks

LONDON, April 7 – US giant Coca-Cola will take a 30-million-pound (33-million-euro, 44-million-dollar) minority stake in natural drinks maker Innocent to help it expand into Europe, Innocent said Monday.

The British company, which makes 100-percent fruit smoothies and prides itself on its socially-responsible image, already operates in 13 European countries and has an annual turnover of 100 million pounds.

"Every promise that Innocent has made — about making only natural healthy products, pioneering the use of better, socially and environmentally aware ingredients, packaging and production techniques, donating money to charity and having a point of view on the world — will remain," said Innocent co-founder Richard Reed in a statement.

He added: "We chose Coca-Cola as an investor because as well as providing the funds which will allow us to increase our investment in the brand both in the UK and internationally, they can help us get our products out to more people in more places."

James Quincey, group business unit president for Coca-Cola Europe, said the firm was "delighted" to invest in Innocent, saying: "We have long admired their brand, their products and their unique approach to business."

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