Britvic pays £200m for its French rival

BRITIVIC is taking over French rival Fruité in a €237m (£203m) deal.

Fruité makes popular French brands such as Teisseire, which sponsors the Tour de France.

The deal will be funded from existing debt facilities and a £100m share placing.

Fruité has four factories, all in France, which Britvic says offer a platform to expand into other European markets.

Britvic has brands such as Robinsons and Tango but nothing in France, where the soft drinks market is worth an estimated €12.5bn.

The announcement came as the company posted posted interim pre-tax profits of £27.8m for the six months to April 11 – a rise of 39 per cent.

Britvic also forecast that new product innovations in the British market were expected to add between one and two per cent to annual revenues.

Chief executive Paul Moody said: “The means by which we are funding this deal ... means that we will have further opportunity should the right strategic deal come along.

“Trading in the early weeks of the second half has been robust and, following the strong first-half performance, gives the board confidence that we will meet the full-year expectations.”

Britvic will push its brands, particularly Fruit Shoot, into France and may introduce the French brands into Britain.

It forecast €10m worth of cost savings from the deal, on which it was advised by Nomura International and BNP Paribas, and said the purchase would be earnings accretive in the first full year of ownership.

Moody added that the French deal was “a good fit” because the company has some packaging methods which Britvic could use.

NOMURA’S consumer retail team worked on the deal which it described as “smooth”.

A group of four specialists hammered out the details from Britvic’s side while BNP Paribas acted as advisors for the French firm.

One of the Nomura team said: “We identified that the French company was available and everything was very straightforward. Both sides came to an early agreement which enabled the deal to be closed off.”

The team has been involved in a series of deals including drinks giants Pernod Ricard and Asahi.

Nomura was already working for Britvic as a corporate broker when it undertook the latest deal.

From start to finish the move for the French firm took only a few months to complete, with yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition the culmination of negotiations between the parties on both sides of the English Channel. The Nomura team member added: “All the parties are pleased with the outcome and there were no real hitches.”