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SodaStream CEO: Sale to PepsiCo Victory over Anti-Israel Boycotters

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, who sealed a $3.2 billion agreement with beverage giant PepsiCo on Monday, hailed the deal as a victory over the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which advocates for the destruction of the Jewish State, The Times of Israel reported.

SodaStream had become a target of the boycotts campaign over the location of its factory in the West Bank, before moving to a location inside the Green Line several years ago. In an interview with Channel 10 news hours after the deal was signed, Birmbaum said, “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.”

In October 2014, SodaStream announced it would close its West Bank factory in Maale Adumim due to financial considerations. At the time, the company accused the boycotts movement of anti-Semitic motives and hurting the interests of the Palestinian workers they claim to protect. Palestinian workers at the factory criticized the boycotts movement for destroying their jobs and livelihood of their families.

The boycotts movement asserted that SodaStream discriminated against Palestinian workers and paid them less than their Israeli counterparts. Employees at the factory, however, said wages for Palestinians and Israeli workers were commensurate, and that Palestinian workers had been given pay and benefits far higher than anything else they could find in the West Bank.

The partnership with PepsiCo, Birnbaum said, means SodaStream will now have “access to resources we may not have had until today.” This includes access to people, technology, R&D capabilities and distribution channels, as well as to retailers.

“They are in many more stores than we are. We will have access to new markets, new countries, we’ll have unlimited budget, cash for marketing, investments, for growth, capital to expand our factory, so everything that it takes to grow a business will now be greater,” Birnbaum observed.

PepsiCo’s commitment is to keep the business in Israel, and the factory in Rahat, “at the current scale for at least 15 years,” Birnbaum added.

According to him, this means that “the amount of employees that work there, which is about 2,000,” will be maintained for at least that period of time. In addition, SodaStream is building a new factory, next to the one in Rahat, that will employ another few hundred people. In total, SodaStream employs some 3,000 workers, 2,500 of whom are in Israel, Birnbaum explained.

Israel-based Sodastream makes a machine and refillable cylinders allowing users to make their own carbonated drinks. The deal will see PepsiCo pay $144 per share for SodaStream’s outstanding stock, a 32 percent premium over its average price of the past 30 days.

[Photo: SodaStream / YouTube]