Soft drinks firm – with factory near Bradford…

Soft drinks firm – with factory near Bradford – to be bought in £3.3bn deal

DANISH brewing giant Carlsberg has agreed a £3.3 billion deal to buy Robinsons squash maker Britvic.

The UK soft drinks firm, which has a factory at Swinnow Industrial Estate between Bramley and Pudsey, told shareholders on Monday morning it will recommend the latest deal – which is valued at £4.1 billion when debts are taken into account.

It comes after the producers of J20 and Tango rejected a previous £3.1 billion offer.

Now, Carlsberg will pay 1,315p per share to Britvic investors under the deal.

Britvic also holds an exclusive licence with US partner PepsiCo to make and sell brands such as Pepsi, 7up and Lipton iced tea in the UK.

The brewing giant had been expected to return with a stronger offer after PepsiCo struck a deal with Carlsberg which would preserve Britvic’s licence agreement in the event of a takeover.

Carlsberg said it believes the integration with Britvic can secure it £100 million in cost efficiencies a year.

Ian Durant, non-executive chairman of Britvic, said: “The proposed transaction creates an enlarged international group that is well-placed to capture the growth opportunities in multiple drinks sectors.

“The board of directors believe that the strategic merits of this offer are compelling, and the offer also provides shareholders with the opportunity to receive the certainty of cash consideration that reflects the current strength and medium-term prospects of the Britvic business.”

Britvic shareholders will vote on the proposed takeover at a general meeting in the coming months.

It also came as Britvic hailed strong growth in the latest quarter despite wet weather across Europe.

Group revenues grew by 6.3 per cent to £502.9 million in the three months to June 30, with growth across both retail and hospitality in the UK.

Carlsberg Group chief executive Jacob Aarup-Andersen said: “With this transaction, we are combining Britvic’s high-quality soft drinks portfolio with Carlsberg’s strong beer portfolio and route-to-market capabilities, creating an enhanced proposition across the UK and other markets in Western Europe.

“The proposed transaction is attractive for shareholders of Carlsberg, supporting our growth ambitions, being immediately earnings accretive and value-accretive in year three.”

In a separate deal on Monday, Carlsberg also agreed to take control of its UK brewing joint venture with Marston’s, the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, which makes brands including Hobgoblin and Pedigree.

Marston’s confirmed it will receive £206 million to sell Carlsberg its 40 per cent stake in the venture.

It comes four years after the two brewers formed the UK joint venture in a deal valuing the operation at £780 million, as Marston’s sought to focus more on its pub operation.

Justin Platt, who became chief executive at Marston’s at the start of the year, said: “This deal further strengthens our balance sheet, significantly reducing our debt by over £200 million.

“Crucially, it allows us to become a pure play hospitality business and focus on what we do best – namely, giving our guests amazing pub experiences.”

Carlsberg said it plans to create a single integrated drinks business called Carlsberg Britvic after completing the two deals.