Lucozade was put up for sale this year alongside Ribena

Lucozade was put up for sale this year alongside Ribena

Suntory Beverage & Food has said it is interested in Ribena and Lucozade but denied that it has agreed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to buy the for-sale UK brands.

Sky News reported yesterday (5 September) that Suntory Beverage & Food is holding “secret talks” with GSK over a GBP1bn (US$1.56bn) sale. The report, citing people close to the talks, said a deal could be reached in the next few days and pre-empt an auction for the brands due to be held later this month.

A spokesperson for Suntory Beverage & Food told just-drinks today (6 September) there is currently no agreement with GSK over the two brands. However, the spokesperson added that the unit does hold an interest in them because “they could help grow our company”.

“We have a small interest because it is a very good opportunity,” the spokesperson said.

GSK refused to comment on the report.

Suntory has been seen as a potential buyer of Ribena and Lucozade since GSK put them up for sale earlier this year. Irn Bru owner AG Barr, which saw its proposed merger with Britvic collapse in July, is also reported to be a possible bidder.

Suntory Beverage & Food, which is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings, has boosted its acquisition funds after its listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last month. The IPO raised US$3.9bn, and company executives have said the money will be used for strategic investments at home and abroad.