Britvic-Barr deal threatens to fizzle out

 
Michael Bow
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THE proposed £1.4bn merger of soft drinks giants AG Barr and Britvic was thrown into disarray yesterday after a trading watchdog referred the deal to the Competition Commission (CC).

The current terms of the all share merger, agreed in November, have now been shelved after the Office of Fair Trading said the range of Britvic and Barr’s drinks made its merger a threat to competition in the £9bn soft drink market.

“We’re in the long grass for at least nine months,” Britvic chairman Gerald Corbett said yesterday, criticising the OFT for its decision to refer the merger.

The OFT will release its report into the ruling in the coming weeks. Former Britvic chief executive Paul Moody stepped down in anticipation of the merger, which would have seen Barr boss Roger White taking over. Yesterday Britvic made managing director of Britvic GB Simon Litherland chief executive until the issue is resolved.