The Indian company Tata Tea has declined to comment on a report in the Indian newspaper Economic Times that Tata Group is interested in joining a bid for Cadbury Schweppes' US beverage business to secure the Snapple range of fruit drinks and iced teas.

The report had suggested that Tata Group was planning to combine with a joint bid being lodged by private equity group Blackstone and Lion Capital for the Cadbury drinks businesses which the UK-based conglomerate has said are now likely to be sold off rather than floated.

Meanwhile, according to a report in The Times, US private equity group Cerberus Capital Management has tabled a bid for the Cadbury US drinks operations which are valued at around GBP7.5bn (US$15bn).

Earlier this year, two private equity consortiums, the first comprising Bain Capital Partners, Thomas H Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group, and the second including Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Lion Capital, tabled bids for the drinks businesses.

The Canadian own-label soft drinks specialist Cott Corp. is also looking to link up with a private equity group in a joint bid.