Linklaters joins Dickson Minto as Britvic and AG Barr show thirst for merger

Dickson Minto and Linklaters are advising on merger talks between Scottish Irn-Bru maker AG Barr and Robinsons squash producer Britvic.

Owen Clay
Owen Clay

Both companies have turned to longstanding legal advisers for advice on a tie-up that could create one of Europe’s largest soft drink companies.

Linklaters corporate partner Owen Clay is advising Britvic on the potential £1.4bn deal alongside banking partner Philip Spittal, while Dickson Minto is advising AG Barr, understood to be led by M&A partner Colin MacNeill.

If the hook-up goes ahead it could create one of the leading soft drinks companies in Europe, according to Britvic, which makes and sells PepsiCo brands in the UK and Ireland. However, Britvic has warned that discussions with AG Barr, known for its bright orange Irn-Bru drink, are at an early stage.

The companies said AG Barr chief executive Roger White would be CEO of the combined group, with Britvic chairman Gerald Corbett chairing the enlarged company.

Although both companies have suffered financially from the bad weather this summer, Britvic’s profits were left particularly vulnerable after its Fruit Shoot children drinks were recalled following safety fears over its bottle caps.

The drinks duo said the the combination would have “compelling industrial logic” and represents an opportunity for both companies to enhance their industry position.

Background to this deal:

Linklaters has advised Britvic for a number of years, helping the beverage company in its acquisition of French rival Fruité in 2010 (14 June 2010). Again it was Clay leading the Linklaters team, working alongside Allen & Overy (A&O), which acted for banks Citibank and Nomura on the placing. The two magic circle firms were also involved in Britvic’s 2009 renegotiation of its £300m banking facility, again with Linklaters advising the company and A&O the banks (20 April 2009).

Dickson Minto has long advised AG Barr, acting for them on the acquisition of Groupe Rubicon in 2008, with MacNeill again the lead partner.