Ballygowan owner Britvic rejects €3.7bn takeover offer from Carlsberg

Soft drinks maker says bid ‘significantly undervalues Britvic, and its current and future prospects’

Bottles of Robinsons Fruit Shoot orange drink, produced by Britvic, move along the production line at the company's factory in Norwich. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty

Soft-drink maker Britvic has rejected a £3.1 billion (€3.7 billion) bid from Carlsberg, saying the Danish brewer was “significantly” undervaluing a group whose brands include Ballygowan, Robinsons and Fruit Shoot.

The takeover attempt marks the latest by a string of foreign companies that have sought to acquire London-listed groups this year, attracted in part by cheaper prices. Carlsberg made an initial bid of 1,200 pence per share earlier this month, before sweetening its all-cash proposal to 1,250p, which London-listed Britvic rejected on Monday.

Carlsberg now has until July 19th to make a firm bid or walk away under UK takeover rules. The brewer of Kronenbourg and Tuborg said it was currently weighing its position after its most recent offer was dismissed.

An acquisition of Britvic would offer Carlsberg the opportunity to expand its drinks bottling in Britain. As well as producing its own brands, Britvic is Pepsico’s bottler in the UK. Carlsberg is also Pepsico’s bottler in Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Cambodia and Laos.


The acquisition of Britvic implied “a significant extension of the partnership with Pepsi”, said Jefferies analyst Edward Mundy. It would also offer the brewer a wider platform in the UK, where Carlsberg is the fourth-largest brewer and has a joint venture with pub group Marston’s.

“However the business still lacks scale in what is a difficult UK market,” he added.

The latest bid represented 29 per cent premium to Britvic’s share price on Wednesday, the day before “press speculation” appeared about a possible bid, Carlsberg said in a statement on Friday.

“Carlsberg believes that the proposal represents a compelling opportunity for Britvic shareholders to realise their investment in full in cash at an attractive valuation,” the brewer added.

On Thursday, shares of Britvic surged before the talks were officially disclosed. The stock continued to gain on Friday, rising 15 per cent to 1,167p in early trading.

Britvic said: “The board together with its advisers carefully considered the second proposal, and concluded that it significantly undervalues Britvic, and its current and future prospects”.

According to Britvic’s website, the company’s history dates back to the 1930s, when a chemist in Chelmsford, Essex, began producing soft drinks. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024