The future of Cadbury Schweppes' European soft drink division was brought into doubt again this weekend, with press speculation the company was close to selling the business.

The UK's Financial Mail reported yesterday (17 July) that a number of strategies were being investigated for the beverage division, but that a sale was most likely.

The paper went on to say that Goldman Sachs, appointed last month as joint broker to Cadbury alongside UBS, is expected to handle any divestment.

The report continues a period of intense scrutiny on Cadbury Schweppes' drinks operations.

In June, UK press reports sparked rumours that Cadbury Schweppes' soft drinks business could be merged with Britvic.

The speculation followed a story that private equity firm KKR was looking at Cadbury Schweppes' soft drinks business and considering merging it with Britvic, which it intended to acquire from joint owners Intercontinental Hotels, Allied Domecq, Whitbread and PepsiCo International.

At the time Britvic dismissed the rumour, saying that it had no intention of doing a deal and that it was committed to plans announced last year for an IPO sometime between now and 2008.

Cadbury Schweppes, meanwhile, declined to comment on the report.

Yesterday's Mail report seemed to back those denials by adding that the float of Britvic was back on the agenda. It cited insiders saying a float could happen within months.