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Carlsberg taps into Gen-Z's sweet tooth with Britvic buy

Fruit drink.
Fruit drink. Copyright Canva.
Copyright Canva.
By Eleanor Butler
Published on Updated
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The Danish brewer's offer to build a UK beverage powerhouse has finally been accepted after two failed bids.

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Carlsberg has agreed to buy soft drinks maker Britvic for £3.3 billion (€3.9 billion), the companies confirmed on Monday.

Britvic, which owns brands including Robinsons, J20, and Fruit Shoot, will be offered 1,290p per share. This is on top of a special dividend of 25p.

The deal comes after Britvic rejected two offers from Carlsberg last month, which it said significantly undervalued the company.

The rejected bids priced shares at 1,200p and then at 1,250p a piece. 

"With this transaction, we are combining Britvic's high-quality soft drinks portfolio with Carlsberg's strong beer portfolio and route-to-market capabilities, creating an enhanced proposition across the UK and other markets in Western Europe," said Jacob Aarup-Andersen, Carlsberg Group CEO.

Aarup-Andersen added that he was pleased to expand his firm's "global partnership with PepsiCo".

Catering for the young's preference for soft drinks

Britvic bottles PepsiCo drinks in the UK and Ireland while Carlsberg bottles products for the US giant in other countries such as Norway and Sweden.

To facilitate Britvic's acquisition, PepsiCo agreed to waive a change-of-control clause in its contract with the UK firm.

By late afternoon on Monday, Britvic's shares were up 4.63% in daily trading, while Carlesberg's stock was up 3.58%.

"Carlsberg's acquisition of Britvic adds some diversification to its portfolio," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"The Danish outfit is having to react to a world in which younger age groups are less likely to indulge heavily in alcohol."

The accepted price isn't the best figure for Britvic, he added, at "only around 3% more in headline terms than a second bid which Britvic rebuffed on the grounds it was being significantly undervalued". He stressed that it was, however, a "fairly weighty premium to the undisturbed share price".

Separately on Monday, Carlsberg announced it would pay £206 million (€244 million) to take full control of UK pub group Marston's.

By buying out its partner, Carlsberg will be able to expand its influence in the UK market.

Shares in Marston's were up 14.89% in daily trading at around 3pm London time.

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