AG Barr and Britvic have confirmed that they are extending the offer deadline regarding their potential merger to October 3, as reports suggest deadlock in talks to agree a new group name.
UK paper The Daily Mail said yesterday it understood that neither firm was willing to give ground on a new name, with ‘Britvic Barr’ and ‘Barr Britvic’ the two alternatives under discussion, as the initial deadline for an all-share merger passed a 5pm yesterday.
An AG Barr spokeswoman confirmed to BeverageDaily.com this morning that the deadline had been extended, but asked about whispers of a naming dispute, said: “We refuse to comment on press speculation – and everything we have to say is contained in today’s announcement.”
In this joint stock exchange announcement, the two firms said: “An extension has been granted by the Takeover Panel, and as such, each of Britvic and AG Barr must, by no later than 5pm on October 31 2012, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for AG Barr or Britvic (as appropriate) in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code…”
Synergy savings one issue?
Alternatively, either firm must announce under Rule 2.8 that it does not intend to make an offer; with any further extension subject to Takeover Panel consent under Rule 2.6 of the code.
According to The Daily Mail, Britvic and Barr requested more time to work out potential synergy savings in the event of any merger – the offer period began on September 5 – as well as agree on the new group’s name.
Together, AG Barr and Britvic (PepsiCo holds a 5% stake in the latter, which is its bottler in the UK and Ireland) would create a UK soft drinks giant with a turnover of circa. ₤1.4bn ($2.25bn).
Any merger would involve Britvic shareholders owning 63% of the group; the analyst consensus in early September was that the tie-up was more attractive for this group than AG Barr’s shareholders.