JAPANESE group Suntory Beverage & Food is in advanced talks to buy Lucozade and Ribena from pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
A person close to the company told City A.M. that the two drinks brands are likely to be sold for between £1bn to £1.5bn and that a deal could be completed within days. However, the person cautioned that the deal could still fall through.
The story was first reported by Sky News. GSK announced plans in April to sell Lucozade and Ribena, as the company seeks to make its consumer health business more focused.
A decision to sell the businesses directly to Suntory without a formal auction would be a blow for private equity houses and other possible trade buyers weighing up a potential bid for the brands.
They have annual sales of just over £500m a year and sector analysts have been expecting a buyer to pay around two times sales.
Suntory was seen as an early frontrunner given its desire to build up its European presence after buying Orangina Schweppes in 2009.
JP Morgan and Greenhill are acting for GSK, who declined to comment yesterday.