Britvic casts further doubt over AG Barr merger

Brtivic has cast further doubt on its proposed merger with  Scottish rival AG Barr after insisting its future as a standalone business is “bright”.

Rubicon has cast further doubt over its merger with Irn-Bru owner AG Barr.

The warning comes as the merger was officially approved by the Competition Commission, which said it would not lead to the “substantial lessening” of competition.

Britvic said in a statement it would “consider” the deal, but added the arrival of new chief  executive Simon Litherland in February and its recently announced plans to save £30m over the next three years means the benefits of the deal were “materially less than they were”. It also noted that AG Barr must table a fresh bid for the company by the end of the month under takeover rules.

The £1.4bn tie-up stalled in February when the deal was first referred to the Office of Fair Trading. During this time the company stepped up its international expansion including new distribution deals for its Fruit Shoot brand in the US and Spain.  

In a statement Britvic chairman Gerald Corbett, said: “Brtivic is in a very different position to last summer when the merger was first agreed. in addition, performance has improved, the merger benefits are materially less than they were and our share price is almost twice the level it was. Britvic’s prospects as a stand-alone company are bright.”

AG Barr says despite Britvic’s stance, it believes a merger still represents a unique opportunity for “value creation” for both sets of shareholders in the “short, medium and long term”.

The proposed new company, Barr Britvic Soft Drinks, would rank number five in the European soft drinks brand owner ranking, and hold an estimated 17% share of throat of the UK soft drinks market, according to FMCG analysts Canadean.

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