Suntorys soft drinks & food unit is to buy the GSK brands

Suntory's soft drinks & food unit is to buy the GSK brands

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to sell its Lucozade and Ribena brands to Suntory Beverage & Food for GBP1.35bn (US$2.11bn).

The cash deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year subject to regulatory approval, GSK said today (9 September). It includes GSK’s Coleford manufacturing site in the UK and “the vast majority of employees at the site”, GSK said.

In Nigeria, GSK will continue to manufacture and distribute Lucozade and Ribena under licence from Suntory Beverage & Food.

Funds from the sale will be used to reduce debt and for “general corporate purposes”, GSK said.

David Redfern, GSK's chief strategy officer, said: “Lucozade and Ribena are iconic brands that have made a huge contribution to GSK over the years, but now is the right time to sell them as we increase the focus of our consumer healthcare business.” 

The news follows a report on Thursday of an impending deal with the Suntory Holdings unit that would pre-empt an expected auction for the brands later this month. On Friday, Suntory Beverage & Food told just-drinks it held an interest in the brands but denied it had reached an agreement to buy them.

The unit has been seen as a potential buyer of Ribena and Lucozade since GSK put them up for sale earlier this year. The likelihood increased after the soft drinks & food division raised US$3.9bn in an IPO last month and said it intended to spend some of the money on overseas acquisitions.

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