A customer pushes a cart with cases of LaCroix sparking water. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

Billionaire LaCroix CEO Denies Allegations of Groping

(Bloomberg) -- Nick Caporella, the billionaire chairman behind LaCroix sparkling water, and the beverage company that he runs denied allegations that the executive inappropriately touched two pilots while flying in the cockpit of his business plane.

National Beverage Corp. and Caporella “unequivocally deny the allegations” reported by the Wall Street Journal, according to a company statement. The claims were included in lawsuits filed in Florida by the male pilots in the past two years, according to the story published on Tuesday. Caporella, 82, is a pilot who also flies the corporate jet.

“The board is aware of the allegations and knows them to be untrue, based on our knowledge of Mr. Caporella and the investigation that was conducted,” said the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company.

A lawyer for Caporella, who is also the company’s chairman, told the Journal that the allegations in the lawsuits were false and “scurrilous.” The article said that one of the lawsuits was settled, while one remains pending.

National Beverage’s shares, which closed 2013 at about $20, have surged above $100 largely on the strength of LaCroix sales, giving the company a market value of more than $5 billion.

National Beverage’s shares took a hit last week when the Securities and Exchange Commission asked the company to explain data that had been included in press releases, according to the Journal.

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