Britvic turns cold on AG Barr merger after winning approval

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BRITVIC has poured cold water on the prospect of revisiting a £1.9bn merger with rival soft drinks maker AG Barr, after the proposed tie-up was cleared by the competition watchdog yesterday.

Chairman Gerald Corbett said while it would “obviously consider any proposal tabled in the interests of shareholders”, Britvic’s prospects as a stand-alone company “are bright”.

“Performance has improved, the merger benefits are materially less than they were, and our share price is almost twice the level it was,” he said.

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr in contrast said it “will actively reconsider” a merger and that “little has changed to alter its previous conviction”.

The pair had agreed an all-share merger in November, which lapsed in February when the Competition Commission launched its investigation.

The original plans would have seen 63 per cent owned by Britvic, with AG Barr owning the rest and its chief executive Roger White leading the new group.

But since then Simon Litherland, who replaced Paul Moody as chief executive of Britvic, has unveiled a new strategy and £30m of annual cost savings to bolster its position as a standalone firm.

Analysts said Britvic is likely to want sweetened terms to agree to a merger.