GSK to sell Ribena and Lucozade

Ribena and LucozadePopular drinks brands Ribena and Lucozade have been put up for sale in a move which could net GlaxoSmithKline more than £1 billion.

The drugs giant confirmed it is selling the soft drinks brands after concluding they would grow faster under a new owner.

Confirmation of the sale came as London-based Glaxo reported a 12% slide in core pre-tax profits to £1.8 billion in the first three months of the year, and a 3% fall in sales to £6.5 billion.

Glaxo is battling tough markets in Europe where austerity drives have hit medicine prices and affected the development of new drugs across the continent. It also faces fierce competition from generic drugs. The group is restructuring its European pharmaceuticals operations to save £1 billion by 2016.

Ribena and Lucozade are largely sold in Western markets and earn sales of about £600 million a year. They are made in the UK at a factory in Coleford, Gloucestershire, and are also produced in Nigeria and Kenya.

Lucozade and Ribena, which were owned by Beecham prior to its merger with SmithKline, date back to 1927 and the 1930s respectively.

Glaxo chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said it will sell the brands if it can recoup "appropriate value". He did not confirm a price tag but analysts believe they could be worth more than £1 billion.

The company has already had interest in the brands since announcing the review in February.

He said: "We concluded that the tremendous growth potential of these iconic brands, particularly outside the core Western markets, could be better leveraged by companies with existing category presence and infrastructure in these regions."

Possible bidders are said to include Japan's Suntory Holdings, which owns Orangina Schweppes, as well as a host of private equity firms. Suntory could not be reached for comment.

The Sunday Times rich list 2013

The Sunday Times rich list 2013

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