C&C snacks in £800m listing

Ireland's leading drinks and snacks group, Cantrell & Cochrane, became the latest company to brave the new issues market yesterday as it unveiled plans for a €1.3bn (£800m) flotation this summer.

C&C, which is a household name in Ireland with brands such as Bulmers cider, Ballygowan mineral water and Tayto potato crisps, said it was seeking a dual listing in London and Dublin to fund expansion and pay off some of its €800m debt. Analysts expect the business, which was bought by the venture capital group BC Partners from Allied Domecq in 1999, to be worth €1.15bn to €1.4bn.

Maurice Pratt, the chief executive, said there would be a significant retail offer, open to UK investors via an intermediary. "It's clear that defensive stocks with strong growth are very much in favour," he said commenting on the timing of the offer.

C&C, which had sales of €750m last year, will be the biggest Irish company to float since Eircom, the former state telecoms company, listed in 1998. C&C generates 25 per cent of its profit outside Ireland, where it sells cider under the Magners brand.

The group has a strong reputation for driving organic growth from its brands, and has positioned Bulmers cider as an upmarket, desirable brand in Ireland, where it had gained market share from Guinness.

BC Partners, which owns 90 per cent of C&C, is expected to retain a "sizeable" stake in the listed group.

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