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Refresco Acquires Cott’s Bottling Activities For €1.1 Billion

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Refresco Acquires Cott’s Bottling Activities For €1.1 Billion

Refresco Acquires Cott’s Bottling Activities For €1.1 Billion
July 26
11:03 2017

Refresco, the Netherlands-based independent bottler of beverages for retailers and A-brands in Europe and the US, has acquired the bottling activities of Cott Corporation, the Canadian drinks group, for US$1.25 billion (€1.1 billion). The deal will create the world’s largest independent bottler with leadership positions across Europe and North America. The acquisition adds 19 production sites in the US, four in Canada, one in Mexico and five in the UK to Refresco’s business.

Refresco currently operates production sites in Benelux, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US. The company generated full year volumes and revenues of circa 6.5 billion litres and circa €2.1 billion, respectively, in 2016.

Cott’s bottling activities (Cott Beverages) are comprised of a leading beverage platform with a full portfolio of non-alcoholic beverages, focussed on retailer brands and contract manufacturing. It is a profitable business with healthy margins and strong free cash flow, with 2016 revenues of US$1.7 billion, adjusted EBITDA of US$136.5 million and customer relationships with over 500 leading retailers.

The purchase price of US$1.25 billion includes a tax asset of US$75 million. Excluding the tax asset, the purchase price represents a multiple of 8.6 times the adjusted EBITDA of Cott’s bottling activities realised in 2016.

Refresco is projecting significant synergy potential of around €47 million to be attained within three years of closing. The deal is subject to customary conditions, including anti-trust approval in various jurisdictions and Refresco shareholder approval.

Integration will start immediately after closing with the UK, representing around 30% of Cott’s business, being integrated into Refresco Europe and the North American organisation being combined with Refresco US.

Hans Roelofs, chief executive of Refresco.

Hans Roelofs, chief executive of Refresco, comments: “This transaction marks a step change in the industry that reinforces Refresco’s position as a leading independent bottler for retailers and A-brands. Last year in September we acquired Whitlock Packaging, marking our entrance into the North American market and the start of our second platform for growth. This is a truly transformational deal, right at the heart of our buy & build strategy. Being able to acquire Cott’s bottling activities is an opportunity we have been studying for the last decade, and today, having grown the company through many successful acquisitions, we have the size, track record and execution power to take this significant leap forward.”

He continues: “The bottling activities of Cott are a perfect strategic fit to our current activities. With the acquisition we create nationwide coverage in the US, the largest single soft drinks market globally, while adding significant capacity and extending our broad product portfolio in the UK. A total of 29 production sites, producing a volume of over 4 billion litres of products, will be added to our already extensive manufacturing footprint and upon completion, Refresco will produce approximately 12 billion litres for all leading retailers and A-brands.”

Jerry Fowden, chief executive of Cott Corporation, says: “After a thorough strategic review in 2013, we developed an accelerated diversification and acquisition strategy in order to transform our company and create a business weighted towards better-for-you products in categories with top-line growth, a more diverse channel and customer base, higher margins, and strong free cash flow generation. This transaction is very much in line with this strategy, and enables our traditional business to become an integral part of a larger global beverage manufacturing company that pursues the same high customer service and quality standards Cott has been known for throughout its history.”

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