Debt concerns hamper Cadbury sale

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cadbury schweppes, Dr pepper snapple group

The sale of Cadbury Schweppes' US beverage division has been
setback by unfavorable market conditions that could undervalue the
operations, the company said today.

Despite receiving "strong"​ interest from potential suitors, the beverage maker revealed it had decided to extend the deadline for the sale amidst "extreme volatility"​ in the raising of leveraged debt for the purchase. In extending the deadline, the future of some of the leading soft drink brands including Snapple, Dr Pepper, and Clamato remains uncertain. Estimates suggest that the deal could cost upwards of €7.5bn. The group revealed its desire last month to offload the brands as part of a cost reduction initiative to "focus on fewer, bigger and more value-creating initiatives"​ and "significantly reduce complexity across all aspects of the business".​ As a result, the company hopes to re-brand as Cadbury plc to emphasize its new focus on confectionery production. The move away from beverage production has been on going process in recent years, though the company has been particularly active in its financial dealings of late. In June alone, the company announced the sale of some of its businesses in Australia, Canada and Italy, raising over 45m (66.4m) towards its 2007 disposal target, whilst at the same time acquiring Turkish confectioner Intergum for $450m (333m). This activity came after the announcement in March this year that Cadbury Schweppes would separate its confectionery and US soft drinks businesses. Cadbury chief executive Todd Stitzer said at the time that this would allow the company to examine its options in a bit to boost the performance of its confectionery business, including a detailed review of costs. Since 1999, Cadbury has sold beverages businesses in about 180 markets. In 2006, it sold beverage operations in Europe, Syria and South Africa for a total of about £1.4bn (€2bn).

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