Cadbury Schweppes has agreed to sell its European beverages business. The company announced the sale to a consortium led by Blackstone Group International and Lion Capital LLP today (21 November) for EUR1.85bn (US$2.17bn). The amount, paid in cash, represents approximately 9.5 times the unit's forecast 2005 underlying EBITDA.

"I'm delighted that within such a short time we have achieved a firm offer for Europe Beverages at a price which reflects the quality of its brands and the strength of its management team," said Todd Stitzer, Cadbury Schweppes' CEO. "Following completion of a deal, we will be able to focus on our faster growing confectionery and other beverage businesses."

If the company does not accept this binding offer, it said it will pay a termination fee of approximately 5% of the offer value. The transaction is conditional on European Union regulatory approval, and is expected to complete early next year.

The beverage unit's main brands are Schweppes, Orangina, TriNa, Oasis and La Casera which account for around 75% of sales. Other brands include Apollinaris, Pampryl, Gini and Vida. The business has wholly-owned bottling operations in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Belgium.