Canadian soft drinks giant Cott Corporation has announced an agreement to buy its concentrate supply contract from the Royal Crown (RC) Cola unit of Cadbury Schweppes.

The deal worth US $94m includes formulas and proprietary technology and RC's concentrate manufacturing and research plant in Columbus, Georgia, in the US, allowing Cott to supply its own concentrates needs.

In addition, Cott will acquire RC's branded international business division that operates in 60 countries; Israel and the Philippines being the biggest markets, but not in the US, Canada, Mexico and certain US territories, including Puerto Rico.

The new agreement will mean Cott will be fully integrated from manufacturing concentrates to the bottling process.

"This acquisition is our most significant ever and takes Cott to a new level," said Frank E. Weise, Cott's president and CEO. "It gives us more control over our destiny. For both shareholders and employees it marks an important milestone. Adding RC's know-how to Cott's accelerating growth is a win-win for our customers."

He added: "Furthermore, the acquisition of RC International will provide international expertise and a bottling network to help us extend our retailer brand business with out global customers."

Royal Crown has supplied Cott with concentrates since 1991. The deal is expected to be completed in July. Meanwhile, Cadbury will continue supplying concentrates to Royal Crown for other customers in Mexico, Canada and the US.

The money made from the deal will go to paying off loans accumulated by
UK-based Cadbury-Schweppes. Toronto-based Cott, known for bottling drinks for store brand names without the use of heavy advertising, began importing drinks into Canada from the US in 1952.