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Suntory could build UK ‘bridgehead’ with GSK brands Ribena and Lucozade

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Suntory could build UK ‘bridgehead’ with GSK brands Ribena and Lucozade

June 30
14:14 2013

GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) brands Lucozade and Ribena are tempting targets for Far Eastern trade players such as Suntory Holdings that wish to establish a bridgehead in the UK, says an M&A expert.

Sky News reported this morning that private equity firms Lion Capital and Blackstone had appointed bankers Rothschild to advise on a potential £1bn+ ($1.52bn) bid for the two GSK brands.

A Lion Capital spokeswoman told this BeverageDaily.com: “We are aware of the story. Lion Capital has a policy of not commenting on market or media-led speculation.”

Julian Wild, corporate finance partner at law firm Rollits, told BeverageDaily.com today that the rumors did not surprise him, given the firms’ experience in the food and beverage sphere.

‘£1bn looks like a very big figure’

In 2005 Lion and Blackstone teamed-up to buy Cadbury-Schweppes’ European beverages division, then sold it to Suntory in 2009 for circa. £1.5bn.

On whether £1bn+ represented fair value, Wild said: “I see that being rumoured, but my view is that those sort of numbers are always aspirational, and it looks like a very big figure to me. But they’re two very valuable brands, and I’m sure that there is going to be plenty of interest.”

In April BeverageDaily.com reported comments from another M&A specialist, Shaun Browne from McQueen, who said he thought the GSK businesses were more likely find a private equity buyer, as top multinational trade buyers would be turned off by brands with a predominantly UK footprint.

 

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