Coca-Cola is buying a 16.7 percent stake in Monster Beverage for $2.15 billion, with the world's biggest sodamaker hoping to benefit from the surging popularity of energy drinks.

The Atlanta-based company said Thursday it will also place two directors on Monster's board as part of the deal.

Analysts had suggested for some time that Coca-Cola might acquire Monster at a time when its flagship soda business is flagging in developed markets such as the United States. Monster Beverage Corp., meanwhile, has cultivated a loyal fan base in part by focusing its marketing on skateboarding, snowboarding and other sports events.

As energy drink makers have enjoyed growth in recent years, they've also been the subject of criticism and controversy over marketing tactics and the caffeine levels in their products. Monster, based in Corona, California, has repeatedly said its drinks are safe.

The deal is the latest move by Coca-Cola to look beyond its own portfolio of Sprite, Dasani, Powerade and other drinks for growth. Earlier this year, the company also bought a 10 percent stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. for $1.25 billion.