C&C to pick up Conviviality's wholesale division in pre-pack administration

Magners owner C&C is set to acquire the wholesale arm of beleaguered firm Conviviality through a pre-pack administration.

The Irish cider giant said that, with the support of drinks group AB InBev, it is in advanced discussions to acquire Conviviality brands Matthew Clark, Bibendum, Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse.

Conviviality confirmed last week that it plans to appoint administrators after a string of profit warnings and the discovery of a £30 million tax bill, putting 2,600 jobs at risk.

C&C will buy the division through a pre-pack administration, which involves a pre-arranged buyer cherry-picking the best assets of a company at a knockdown price.

Under the terms of the deal, it is understood that the wholesale arm would be ringfenced and then put into administration on Wednesday, before being snapped up by C&C.

It is unclear how many jobs would be saved as a result of the C&C deal, but the unit employs up to 2,000 people.

AB InBev will provide additional financial support to the transaction.

PwC is handling the sale and administration process.

Stephen Glancey, C&C chief executive, said: "We know the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses very well.

"They are great businesses with unparalleled on-trade market access, a wide range of supplier relationships and supported by a knowledgeable and loyal employee base.

"The last few weeks have been challenging for employees, customers and suppliers alike. We hope today's announcement can put an end to this period of disruption and uncertainty."

C&C added that the deal will create the "leading independent route-to-market network across the British Isles", providing direct access to 23,000 customers including hotels, restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars.

Matthew Clark is the largest independent drinks distributor in the UK, supplying thousands of pubs, while Bibendum is one of the largest wine, spirits and craft beer distributors and wholesalers in the country.

Bargain Booze will not be included in the deal as it sits in Conviviality's retail division, which is still being touted for sale.

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