AG Barr silent over talk of private equity

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IRN-BRU maker AG Barr remained tight-lipped last night over reports it will team up with private equity firms Blackstone and Lion Capital to buy the Lucozade and Ribena brands from drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The Cumbernauld-based firm refused to comment on reports that it was mulling a bid for the drinks labels, which Glaxo has identified as being “non-core”.

Analysts last week suggested that a raft of private equity buyers would be interested in the brands, which would price Barr out of any bidding war.

Reports of a tie-up with Blackstone and Lion Capital comes just days after Barr abandoned its proposed £1.9 billion reverse takeover of Pepsi bottler Britvic, which would have created Europe’s largest soft drinks maker.

On Thursday, Barr said it had sweetened the proposed deal for Britvic by offering its shareholders a 70 per cent stake in the enlarged group, rather than its initial suggestion of 65 per cent.

But Britvic’s board rejected the offer and so Barr walked away. The Office of Fair Trading had delayed the deal, which was first mooted last September, by referring it to the Competition Commission, which gave the green light earlier this month.

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