Vimto owner Nichols monitoring Ribena sale process

NICHOLS, the North West drinks manufacturer and owner of Vimto, Sunkist and Panda brand, has been linked with a major deal to buy Ribena and Lucozade from global pharma to consumer products group GlaxoSmithKline.

A report on Sky News said Newton-le-Willows-based Nichols – which has just  reported strong financial results – could partner with a private equity firm to take part in the £1bn sale process.

Sky said GSK was encouraging Nichols to bid for the brands, though it is understood that the AIM-listed company is undecided whether to move forward and has not spoken to any PE firms about a potential bid.

In a statement Nichols said: “We are monitoring the sale of GSK’s drinks brands with interest but we understand that the process is in its early stage’’. 

Other likely trade bidders for the two popular brands are Suntory, the Japanese giant, and Scottish group AG Barr, which owns Irn-Bru.

Private equity groups with track records of investing in the sector such as Blackstone and Lion Capital along with Bain Capital, CVC Capital Partners, KKR and Onex, a Canadian fund, are among those also considering bids.