The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) is in talks to buy energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp. (Nasdaq: MNST), an $11.6 billion company whose shares rocketed more than 20 percent Monday, in what would be Coca-Cola's largest acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Corona, Calif.-based Monster, which until January was known as Hansen Natural Corp., makes such popular drinks as Monster Energy, Monster Rehab, Monster Energy Extra Strength Nitrous Technology, and Java Monster.
Monster contacted prospective buyers last year, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) and Asian companies, the Journal said.
Buying Monster would give the Atlanta-based beverage giant a more successful line of energy drinks than its Full Throttle energy drink brand. Coca-Cola has been trying to expand its alternative and energy drinks recently as sales of its traditional carbonated beverages slide. It bought Glaceau, which makes Vitaminwater, in 2007 for $4.2 billion.
Nasdaq halted trading in Monster shares twice Monday morning for about five minutes each time after news of the talks between Coke and Monster became known. In afternoon trading, Monster shares jumped $11.27, or 17.2 percent, to $76.55. Earlier in the day shares had climbed to $82.51.
Monster's revenue is soaring -- sales jumped 31 percent last year and Wall Street expects the company to grow another 17 percent in 2012, the Journal said.
Coca-Cola shares fell 62 cents to $76 in afternoon trading.