UK-based soft drinks to sweets group, Cadbury Schweppes, is thought to be close to acquiring Nantucket Nectars, the fruit juice producer in which Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc owns an 80% stake. The two companies have been reportedly holding talks and are expected to make an announcement this week. Analysts value the Massachusetts-based fruit juice brand at around $100 million.

The move, if the deal goes ahead, would mark a further step for Cadbury-Schweppes into the non-carbonated soft drinks market. The company acquired Snapple for $1.5 billion from Triarc in late-2000, and also owns the Motts apple juice and Hawaiian Punch brand. The addition of the Nantucket Nectars brand, which has annual sales of around 13.5 million cases, would boost the company's presence in the premium beverage category and as such would be a good fit with Snapple.

Nantucket Nectars was formed in 1989. Ocean Spray acquired its 80% participation in 1997 but has been known to be looking for a buyer for the company since late last year. Neither company has so far commented on the speculation.