WASHINGTON: Coca-Cola is preparing to take full control of the sports drink group BodyArmor in a deal worth $5.6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. Coca-Cola already holds a 30 percent stake in the sports drink group. The buyout, which would value BodyArmor at about $8 billion, would see the soda giant buy the remaining 70 percent from BodyArmor’s founders and investors, as well as a group of professional athletes who have invested in the company. BodyArmor was backed at its founding in 2011 by basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in early 2020 and had invested $6 million in the company. The Journal reported that Bryant’s estate should collect about $400 million from the deal, citing people close to the case. Coca-Cola declined to comment when contacted by AFP. BodyArmor is a competitor to industry giant Gatorade, which is owned by PepsiCo, Coca-Cola’s main business rival. BodyArmor expects sales to reach $1.4 billion this year, compared to $250 billion in 2018 when Coca-Cola first invested in the company.