March 12, 2004

Castanea Partners Makes Strategic Investment in Fuze Beverage

Castanea Partners, a private equity firm located in the Greater Boston area, announced today that it has acquired a significant equity stake in Fuze Beverage LLC (“Fuze”). Headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Fuze manufactures and markets vitamin infused juice drinks and teas targeted at health conscious consumers.

Fuze was founded in 2001 by Lance Collins, who has worked in the beverage industry for over twenty years. In developing Fuze, Collins’ vision was to produce “Smart Age,” healthy beverages that offer low carbohydrates, low calories, vitamins, minerals and great taste. In the last two years, the company has grown to more than 50 employees, with over 220 distributors across 48 states and the Caribbean. This past year Fuze had six of the top 15 fastest-growing products in ACNielsen’s New Age beverage category.

In 2002, Fuze received an investment from the Pentland Group, a private investment firm focused on branded consumer products. Pentland has also invested in such well known international brands as Reebok, Speedo, and Lacoste. Pentland will retain their current investment in Fuze and join forces with Castanea in further developing the Fuze brand.

The senior team at Castanea has previous operating experience in the beverage industry, including the ownership of GC Beverages, the largest independent Pepsi-Cola bottler in the late 1980’s, and the Sunkist soft drink brand.

Lance Collins states, “Castanea’s investment in Fuze will enable us to continue to expand our product offerings and market reach. Additionally, their experience in the beverage industry, combined with their brand expertise, makes them ideal strategic partners as we continue our rapid growth.”

Brian Knez, Managing Partner of Castanea, comments, “Fuze is a tremendous opportunity that fits our investment strategy well. Lance and his team have done a marvelous job of rapidly growing the brand, and the opportunity to partner with Pentland is very attractive. Our operating experience in branded consumer products, and beverages in particular, made us very comfortable with the company and our ability to help them build on their success.”

Robert Smith, Managing Partner of Castanea, adds, “Fuze has achieved a level of success that is rare in its market, and they show all the signs of continuing on their path of rapid growth. They have a lot of exciting opportunities ahead, and we look forward to helping them maximize their success.”

About Castanea

Castanea is a private equity firm that works in partnership with founders and management teams of innovative passion brands to grow their businesses through a combination of capital investment and operating expertise. We are focused on select consumer verticals including beauty, food and beverage, multi-unit services, and enthusiast lifestyle. We typically invest between $15 to $150 million of equity in minority or majority transactions. Our team of talented operating executives offers critical expertise in key verticals and functional areas, and provides our partner companies with strategic and tactical support. Castanea has more than $1 billion in assets under management and is currently investing from a $735 million fourth fund. For more information about Castanea Partners read our story.

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