Cadbury Schweppes has refused to be drawn on speculation that a swathe of private equity groups are circling its US drinks business.

Last week, Cadbury, which owns drinks brands including Dr. Pepper and Snapple, said it would separate its US beverage operations from its global confectionery business.

The UK-based company has yet to decide whether it will sell or float its drinks assets and said it would shed further light on its plans in June.

Industry analysts have argued that any likely potential suitors would come from the cash-laden private equity sector.

To that end, a report in UK newspaper The Times said today (22 March) that there has been "strong interest" in the US business from private equity firms, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Bain Capital and Texas Pacific Group.

However, a Cadbury spokesperson in London told just-drinks that the report was "purely speculative". She declined to comment further.

Last week, Martin Deboo, an analyst at UK bank Investec, said "the likely end-game" was that Cadbury's Americas Beverages business would be sold, "most likely" to private equity groups.

"A trade buyer is less likely than private equity but other buyers could potentially be an American brewing business that wants to add a soft drinks business," Deboo told just-drinks.

"However, it would be an odd strategy for a trade buyer to buy into a number three position in the market behind Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo."

Officials at KKR, Bain Capital and Texas Pacific Group could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.