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In November 2012, when the two companies initially announced that they would be seeking approval to merge, the broad perception was that the cost-saving synergies that could be made – those of around £30 million – would provide for a bigger, better and healthier company. At that time, due to problems that Britvic were having, it was perceived that the smaller company AG Barr was actually the stronger, and that a combined company of £1.4 billion would suit both parties.
At this point the UK’s Competition Commission assessed the underlying implications to the consumer and the deal was put on hold, and during that drawn-out process Britvic embarked on restructuring. As can be seen in the performance of the share price in the market, this restructuring has been widely perceived to have greatly improved the company, making it considerably stronger.
The news from yesterday therefore can’t really be described as surprising; the markets had already seen AG Barr come back with an improved deal for Britvic and receive a lukewarm reception. Ironically we have almost seen the whole process reversed, with AG Barr now looking the weaker of the two and arguably the more likely to become a takeover target.