Red Bull is credited with introducing Europe and North America to the concept of the energy drink, and now sells more than seven billion cans per year in more than 170 countries.
The company’s Austrian magnate Dietrich Mateschitz founded the firm in 1987 after partnering with Thai entrepreneur Chaleo Yoovidhya to adapt a drink which was popular among labourers and taxi drivers in Thailand.
Mateschitz’s wealth is now estimated at $26billion, making him the 57th-richest person in the world, and he owns a private island in Fiji. The Yoovidhya family, which maintains a 49 per cent share, were named in the Panama Papers which outlined some of their offshore financial arrangements.
After gaining popularity in Europe, Red Bull entered the US market in 1997, beginning in California and later spreading out across the country.
By 2005 Red Bull had a 47 per cent share of the US energy drinks market, although in recent years it has faced a challenge from rival Monster.
Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, the co-founder and owner of Red Bull, watches one of his soccer teams in action earlier this month
Red Bull promotes its drinks with the slogan ‘Red Bull Gives You Wings’, while maintaining that it is marketed as a ‘conventional beverage’ and not as a ‘dietary supplement’.
The drink’s original recipe was banned in France from 1996 to 2008 over concerns about the ingredient taurine, until EU regulations forced them to relent because no health risk had been proven. Norway and Denmark also restricted sales.
Aside from its drinks empire, the firm has also become a major player in the sports world with its own Formula One team and a series of other franchises.
The F1 team won four consecutive world championships from 2010 to 2013, becoming the first Austrian constructor to win the title, with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel taking the drivers’ championship on all four occasions.
In soccer, Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg have seen unprecedented success since being taken over by the drinks firm in 2005, while Germany’s RB Leipzig have enjoyed a rapid rise since being founded in 2009 – although their wealthy backers have often made them unpopular with rival fans.
In 2006, the company moved into the US soccer market by taking over a New York team, renaming them the Red Bulls and building a stadium in Harrison, New Jersey called the Red Bull Arena.
Extreme sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race for pilots and Red Bull Crashed Ice for winter sports have further expanded the company’s brand.
Mateschitz, 76, also owns a media firm, and in 2017 unveiled plans to start a new platform called Closer To The Truth which was compared to Breitbart. He had previously criticised Germany and Austria’s governments for welcoming refugees at the height of the 2015 crisis.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2013