Buyout Giants Get Taste For Ribena
Blackstone, the American private equity giant, is among a pack of predators eyeing £1bn-plus bids for Lucozade and Ribena, the soft drinks brands.
I have learnt that Blackstone is preparing to make an offer for the brands if their current owner, the drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, puts them up for sale as expected.
The two brands, which have annual sales of more than £400m, have been designated as non-core assets by Sir Andrew Witty, GSK's†Chief Executive, and are expected to be put on the auction block within months.
"They're great brands but they don't naturally tick the boxes for where I think the core synergy of the company sits," Sir Andrew said last month. "Every option is on the table. If there's an option out there that can do any better with them than us, that'd be great."
City analysts value Lucozade and Ribena at more than £1bn, with some arguing that they could be worth as much as £1.5bn.
The two brands have faced criticism from health campaigners in the past over their sugar content, and some GSK executives believe they sit uncomfortably in the portfolio of a company focused on consumer health.
If Blackstone were to succeed with an offer for Lucozade and Ribena, it would re-establish the buyout firm on familiar ownership territory. In 2005, Blackstone joined forces with Lion Capital to acquire the European beverages division of Cadbury-Schweppes, which included brands such as Orangina.
They sold the company four years later to Suntory Holdings, the Japanese drinks company, for more than £1.5bn.
Other buyout firms, such as Bain Capital, CVC Capital Partners, KKR and Lion - recently in the news because of its joint ownership of Findus, the frozen food company at the centre of Europe's horsemeat scandal - would also be expected to examine offers for the two GSK brands, as would a number of leading beverages companies.
GSK has not yet formally decided whether to sell Lucozade and Ribena, and could yet opt to keep them or pursue a joint venture with a partner, one insider has cautioned.
The company, which declined to comment, is expected to appoint an investment bank to oversee a sale at around the time of its full-year results at the end of April.
what do you think?
Is it just me or does ribena seem to be watered down. .it seems to go about half as far as it used to.
Another great British brand sold to venture capitalists ,factory shipped out to some foreign land employees don`t even get a say. Free country free to kick us any time they like.