Traders bail out of Britvic ahead of Barr merger announcement

 
Michael Bow
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SOFT drinks maker Britvic plunged in trading yesterday after rumours swirled it had tapped investors for up to £44m ahead of preliminary findings of a competition probe into its merger with AG Barr.

Traders wiped more than five per cent off the company in afternoon trading following reports from Bloomberg that investment bank Morgan Stanley had placed 8.8m shares at up to 505p in an accelerated bookbuilding. Shares closed down 1.67 per cent at 500p.

Accelerated bookbuilds are commonly used to raise capital to fund mergers and acquisitions.

Preliminary findings of a Competition Commission probe, which sources say could come as early as today, are set to determine the fate of a £1.4bn merger with Scottish soft drink rival and Irn Bru maker AG Barr.

The tie-up, announced last September, hit the rocks after the Office of Fair Trading referred the merger to the commission over fears it would reduce competition for certain drinks. Britvic and Barr declined to comment.