Drinks firms fight Schweppes deal

SEVERAL OF Britain's leading soft drinks companies have complained to the Office of Fair Trading that Cadbury Schweppes's proposed pounds 1bn deal to sell its non-US soft drinks interests to Coca-Cola is anti-competitive.

Submissions have been filed by Britvic, which is part of Bass, Virgin, which controls the Virgin Cola brand, and the Scottish group AG Barr, which produces Irn-Bru. They argue that the deal would give Coca-Cola 50 per cent of the UK soft drinks market and be against consumer interests.

Stephen Davies, managing director of Britvic, said: "We have genuine concerns. Coca-Cola is already the dominant player and they would be acquiring another major slice of the market. It is the augmentation of a monopoly position."

Robin Barr, chairman of AG Barr, said: "It will substantially increase the clout of the company that is already the leader by some distance. That has to be wrong. We hope the OFT will take the same view."

Under the deal, announced in December, Cadbury is selling its non-US soft drinks to Coca-Cola in order to concentrate on its confectionery interests and its US soft drinks business, chiefly Dr Pepper.

The brands included in the deal are Schweppes, Dr Pepper, Canada Dry Crush and Oasis, in 120 countries. Coca-Cola's portfolio already includes Coca-Cola, Lilt, Sprite and Fanta.

Figures from AC Nielsen show that the UK take-home drinks sector was worth pounds 3.4bn last year. Estimates suggest that Coca-Cola has 40 per cent of the market, Britvic 20 per cent, AG Barr 6 per cent and Virgin 2 per cent.

Companies such as Britvic say gaining the Schweppes brands will take Coca-Cola's share to over 50 per cent, potentially restricting customer choice. It claims that Coca-Cola will be able to use the power of the "must-have" Coca-Cola brand to persuade retailers to stock its other brands as well, potentially excluding other products from retailers' shelves.

Britvic also says that the latest in a series of deals between Cadbury and Coca-Cola amounts to "acquisition by stealth". They formed a bottling joint venture, Coca-Cola Schweppes Beverages, in 1987. In 1996 Cadbury sold its 51 per cent stake in CCSB to Coca-Cola. Now the US giant is taking control of the Schweppes brands. Rivals say the "drip-feed" nature of the deals has enabled them to evade scrutiny by the competition authorities.

Cadbury says that as Coca-Cola already controls bottling and distribution of Schweppes brands in the UK, the latest change is a minor development.

Competitors had until 29 December to make submissions to the OFT, which is expected to make a decision next month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Market Risk Manager - Investment Banking - Mandarin Speaker

£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes