(Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co is in talks to buy energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp , the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, sending Monster’s shares up 17 percent.
An acquisition of Monster, which had a market capitalization of more than $11 billion, would be the largest brand acquisition for Coca-Cola, according to the paper, and would give the world’s biggest soft-drink maker greater exposure to the growing energy drink market.
A Monster spokeswoman said it is the company’s policy not to comment on rumors.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola was not immediately available to comment.
Monster Beverage, earlier known as Hansen Natural, was taken public by current CEO Rodney Sacks in 1992. Sacks still has a 7.3 percent stake in the company, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Speculation about whether Coca-Cola would buy Monster has surfaced in the past, due to Monster’s high growth and the fact that Coca-Cola distributes Monster’s energy drinks.
The company’s shares nearly doubled over the past year even before Monday’s jump. As of Friday’s close, the company’s market capitalization was about $11.4 billion based on the number of share outstanding as of February 24.
Near midday, Monster shares were up $8.20, or 12.5 percent, to $73.73 on the Nasdaq. Coke shares were down 63 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $76 on the New York Stock Exchange.