Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Irn-Bru and Britvic begin talks over £1.4bn merger

The company behind Irn-Bru — dubbed Scotland's other national drink — has confirmed talks over a possible £1.4 billion merger with Tango maker Britvic.

AG Barr, which dates back to 1875 and which also makes Tizer and Rubicon, said the discussions were at an early stage. It has already been agreed that Britvic shareholders will own 63% of any new company. Shares in both companies fizzed yesterday, with Britvic worth £890m after a 12% rise and AG Barr up 4%, valuing it at £500m.

Barr, which is based at Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, has produced Irn-Bru from a secret recipe for more than 130 years.

Chairmanship of the company passed outside the family for the first time in 2009 when Robin Barr ended his 31-year tenure as chairman. He remains on the company's board.

The business started in 1875 when Mr Barr's great-grandfather, Robert Barr, embarked on a new direction for the family cork-cutting business by producing and selling ‘aerated waters’, as soft drinks were called at the time.

The current business has won praise from City analysts for its performance, while Britvic, which employs 3,500 people and also makes Pepsi and 7UP under licence, has endured a challenging 2012. It has been hit by the cost of recalling packs of Robinsons Fruit Shoot due to problems with a new cap design, which could wipe between £15m and £25m from profits over this financial year.

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