UK competition body approves possible Britvic-AG Barr merger
No certainty drinks groups will unite after upturn in Britvic’s fortunes during delay in deal
Britain’s competition commission has approved a lapsed merger between drinks-makers Britvic and AG Barr. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.
The commission said it did not expect the merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition.
Britvic, which has seen an upturn in its fortunes since the merger lapsed last year, said there was no certainty that an offer will now be made.
AG Barr and Britvic had long eyed a merger and talks only took off in earnest in September when AG Barr approached its bigger rival about a £1.4 billion tie-up. Britvic at the time was reeling after a costly recall of its Fruit Shoot drinks and a wet summer that left the share price at near three-year lows.
The deal lapsed in February after being referred to the commission. It had already suffered two extensions after the Office of Fair Trading lengthened its inquiry.
In a statement, Britvic’s chairman Gerald Corbett said the group would consider any proposal tabled in the interests of shareholders but that Britvic was in a very different place to when the merger was agreed last year.
“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,” he said.