Asahi acquires Cadbury’s Schweppes, Coca-Cola still eligible to make counter offer

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 25th December 2008

Cadbury will sell their Schweppes Beverages business in Australia for approximately A$1.185b to Japanese-brewer Asahi. The deal is pending regulatory approval and subject to a right of negotiation granted to The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in 1999. Under this provision, TCCC has the right until March 2009 to negotiate with Cadbury regarding a potential acquisition of the Schweppes Australia business.

TCCC was granted the provision after a takeover bid for Schweppes almost a decade ago failed to receive regulatory approval.

“If TCCC makes an offer during this period, Cadbury will carefully consider such offer, including the price and likelihood of receiving necessary regulatory and other consents,” they advised in a statement. “If Cadbury and TCCC do not enter into an agreement with respect to Schweppes Australia, then Cadbury will enter into a binding sale and purchase agreement with Asahi.”

Asahi’s successful bid was announced on  Christmas Eve and follows the completion of a strategic review announced in July 2008.

“The successful sale of Schweppes Australia will complete Cadbury’s divestment of its beverage operations,” Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury, said. “As a result, Cadbury will focus solely on growing its Chocolate, Gum and Candy portfolio in line with the Vision Into Action strategy, announced in June 2007.”

Schweppes Australia is the second largest non-alcoholic ready to drink beverages business in Australia and its portfolio consists of both owned and franchised brands, including Schweppes and Pepsi. It has around 1,500 employees.