Lucozade and Ribena on Barr's radar

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Two of Britain's best known drinks brands, Lucozade and Ribena, are reported to be a £1 billion takeover target for the owner of Irn-Bru.

AG Barr, which recently failed to pull off a deal with Britvic to create Europe's largest soft drinks company, is expected to open talks with private equity firms with a view to launching a joint bid for the brands, the Sunday Times said.

GlaxoSmithKline is selling Lucozade and Ribena as it believes the brands would be worth more to a larger drinks business.

Interest is expected from a number of private equity firms, although the Japanese drinks manufacturer Suntory is believed to be the favourite as it looks to add to a portfolio that already includes Orangina Schweppes.

Cumbernauld-based Barr, which dates back to 1875 and also makes Tizer and Rubicon, is considering whether to team up with the buy-out firms Blackstone and Lion Capital.

Last week, it tabled a new proposal to rival Britvic following formal notification that their £1.4 billion merger had been given the all clear from regulators.

But Robinsons squash firm Britvic turned down the latest potential offer even though it was on ''more favourable terms''.

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.

They were owned by Beecham prior to its merger with SmithKline, with Lucozade dating back to 1927 and Ribena starting a few years later.

Drugs giant Glaxo is expected to launch an auction for the brands in the autumn. They form part of its consumer healthcare division, which also includes the brands Horlicks and Panadol and achieved annual sales of £5.1 billion in 2012.

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