The deal is pending regulatory approval and subject to a right of negotiation granted to The Coca-Cola Company 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 an 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,” said Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury. ”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 owned and franchised brands, including Schweppes and Pepsi. It has about 1,500 employees.
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