Bang Energy parent Vital Pharmaceuticals names John DiDonato as interim CEO to replace controversial founder& CEO John Owoc

USA – Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX), the parent company of Bang Energy has appointed the current company’s chief transformation officer, John DiDonato, as the interim CEO & CTO, effective immediately, replacing John H. Owoc (“Jack”).

In the press release, the company said the Founder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Chief Science Officer (CSO), and Chairman John H. Owoc (“Jack”) will no longer serve in his role as CEO & CSO or as a member of the Board of Directors.

He founded the company in 1993 and helped it become one of the largest private companies in South Florida, with over $700 million in sales. It was the fastest-growing company in South Florida in 2019. Yet, several high-profile lawsuit losses to rival Monster Energy cost the company dearly.

Vital’s Board of Directors said DiDonato is the National Practice Leader and Managing Director at Huron Consulting Company. He brings more than 35 years of experience leading companies through complex financial and operational transformations.

At the same time, the company has elevated Gene Bukovi to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we acknowledge Jack’s vision in founding this leading brand and creating a world-class product in the energy drink category. As the Company continues to pursue value maximization, we are grateful to Mr. DiDonato and the executive leadership team for their stewardship and to the talented and hard-working members of the Bang Energy team for their unyielding commitment to the brand,” said Steve Panagos, Chairman of the Board.

Last year, Vital Pharmaceuticals filed ‘Chapter 11’ protection in the US state of Florida, a move it claimed would allow it to reorganize and regain market share from domestic rivals.

In a statement announcing the bankruptcy, Bang said the PepsiCo deal led to a decline in market share, from about 9.7% just before the transaction to 6.3% when it exited, equating to about $680 million in lost sales.

The filing of bankruptcy followed a lost US$293m lawsuit for false advertising to rival Monster Beverage Corp.

As part of the restructuring process, VPX stated it has the intention to create a new “decentralized direct store distribution (DSD)” network for the Bang Energy brand, which it hopes will enable it to recover to its “pre-Pepsi meteoric annual success.”

Owoc vowed to continue fighting Monster Energy and Pepsi. He added that Bang’s new distribution plans will allow the company to return to explosive growth.

But Vital is now set for a bankruptcy court auction, the South Florida Business Journal reported last week, and it’s likely the board believed it could better maximize its value in a sale under the direction of a new CEO.

In August 2022, speculation was also high that another CSD company – Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP) – was in talks to buy VPX.

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