The Blackstone Group International (“Blackstone”) and Lion Capital LLP (“Lion Capital”), on behalf of funds advised by each of them, have committed to acquire, as equal partners, the European Beverages division of Cadbury Schweppes plc (“CSEB”) in a transaction which values the business at €1.85 billion (£1.27 billion). The communication and consultation process with employee representatives is expected to commence immediately. Following the completion of this process, Cadbury Schweppes plc will be able to enter into the formal agreement with Lion and Blackstone. This should result in completion of the transaction in early 2006.
CSEB owns several leading brands such as Schweppes, Orangina, Oasis and TriNa which compete in the growing soft drinks market primarily in Continental Europe. CSEB is headquartered in Paris, France, has sales in over 30 countries and employs approximately 3,000 people. With sales in 2005 expected to be approximately €1 billion, CSEB’s brands target the premium, non-cola, fruit-based segment of the overall €140 billion European soft drinks market.
Javier Ferran, a Director of Lion Capital, plans to oversee CSEB as Chairman. Mr Ferran joined Lion Capital earlier this year after the conclusion of a 20 year career at Baccardi, most recently as President and Chief Executive.
David Blitzer, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone said: “We are excited by the opportunity to invest behind such well-established heritage brands. This investment continues our focus of investing in high quality, stable, cash-generative businesses. This has never been more important than at this point in the investment cycle. We see this as a long-term opportunity to fully realise the potential within CSEB.”
Lyndon Lea, Founding Partner of Lion Capital, added: “Our commitment to acquire CSEB is a direct result of our strong sector focus in consumer branded products. These brands are leaders in their categories with unique points of difference due to their fruit-based nature which is on trend from a secular perspective. We look forward to working with the management to invest and develop the brands in their core territories.”
NM Rothschild and JPMorgan acted as financial advisors to Lion and Blackstone. Debt is being provided by JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America.
Notes to editors:
Lion Capital is a private equity investment firm based in London. The firm’s principals have been investing private equity in Europe since the early 1990s and have invested approximately €2 billion in companies across Europe. The firm is a recognised leader in investing in franchise businesses, primarily within the consumer-related sectors of the economy. Lion Capital works in partnership with management to transform the companies in which it invests. For more information please visit: www.lioncapital.com.
The Blackstone Group, a global investment and advisory firm with offices in New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, Paris and Mumbai, was founded in 1985. The firm has raised a total of more than $45 billion for alternative asset investing since its formation. Approximately $25 billion of that has been for private equity investing. Blackstone’s other core businesses include private real estate investing, corporate debt investing, distressed securities, marketable alternative investments, restructuring and reorganization advisory and corporate advisory services. For more information please visit: china.blackstone.com.