Ocean Spray drinks bottler Refresco gives in to €1.6bn private equity bid after short-lived listing

 
Lucy White
NETHERLANDS-FRANCE-BEVERAGE-ACQUISITION
Refresco floated just two years ago (Source: Getty)

Refresco, the drinks bottling company to brands such as Del Monte, Innocent and Ocean Spray, has agreed to a €1.6bn takeover by French private equity firm PAI Partners.

The Netherlands-based company was floated in 2015 by investors including London-listed 3i, fending off bids from a number of private equity suitors including US giant Blackstone.

Read more: Blackstone mulls £1.5bn takeover of drinks bottler

PAI, who have been sniffing around the company since before the listing, made a lower €1.4bn offer to take the company private in April which was rejected.

“The ownership structure has never been a goal in itself,” said chief executive Hans Roelofs in a press conference. “We were able to flourish in the public domain, but that also led to others knocking at our door with a higher valuation than the market offered.”

PAI, along with Canadian investor British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, intend to buy all 81.2m Refresco shares for €20 apiece.

The offer price is 38 per cent higher than Refresco's float price, and already has support from shareholders representing 26.5 per cent of Refresco's stock. The share price was up 2.38 per cent in early afternoon trading to €19.76.

Read more: FTSE 100 private equity firm 3i announces £68m gains from weakening sterling as total return climbs

Former owner 3i is still a major shareholder, along with investment holding companies Ferskur and Tamoa.

PAI's swoop follows Refresco's acquisition of Canada-based Cott Corporation this summer. Roelofs denied speculation that this was intended to ward off private equity players, saying the move was simply designed to boost Refresco's US presence.

Its new owners say they fully support Refresco's buy-and-build strategy.

PAI has previously backed businesses including airport logistics firm Swissport and Jacob's Cream Crackers owner United Biscuits.

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