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Refresco offers to sell UK PET facility to address CMA concerns over Cott merger

Soft drinks bottler Refresco has offered to sell a UK facility in order to address the concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over its merger with Cott.

Earlier this month, the UK CMA has found that Refresco’s proposed deal could lead to higher prices or lower quality standards.

The two companies supply juice drinks using a special aseptic production process, allowing them to sell the products preservative-free and without refrigeration.

Although the merger did not find competition concerns for the majority of the companies’ products, the CMA raised concerns over potential increase in prices or lower quality standards as there is only one other competitor in the country which currently supplies juice drinks to the third parties using special aseptic production process.

However, Refresco, in consultation with Cott, has offered to sell the Aseptic PET facility at the Nelson site. The facility will be sold to a suitable buyer. The offer has been accepted by CMA in principle.

Rabobank has been appointed to lead the sales process. Refresco and Cott will continue to operate separately in the UK until they meet all requirements.

The integration in the other jurisdictions will begin soon upon completion of the acquisition.

Refresco CEO Hans Roelofs said: "The acceptance of our remedy by the CMA is an important milestone on the path to completing this transformational acquisition of Cott's bottling activities.

“We will now focus on the next steps to completion and look forward to creating the world's largest independent bottler with leadership positions across Europe and North America."

Cott CEO Jerry Fowden said: "With Refresco announcing their expectation to close on the transaction at the end of January, we will soon have a much stronger balance sheet and we can fully dedicate our focus on the growth and expansion of our route based services business in water, coffee, tea and filtration solutions."

Image: Refresco intends to acquire Cott’s bottling activities. Photo: © Crown copyright.