Permira Sells Britvic Stake

(Reuters) – British private equity group Permira [PERM.UL] on Wednesday said it had sold its 14 percent stake in soft drink maker Britvic (BVIC.L).

“Our strategy is to make controlled investments and, as such, we have decided to sell our passive stake in Britvic though the company has continued to perform well,” a spokesman for Permira told Reuters.

Traders told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that UBS was placing 30 million shares in Britvic at an average price of 265.5 pence per share for around 80 million pounds.

The European buyout house bought into the maker of Robinsons juices in December 2006 at 268 pence per share and was expected to use the investment as a springboard to make a full buyout bid, which failed to materialise.

Shares in Britvic, which have risen in value by around a quarter in the last three months, were 4.5 percent down at 277.5 pence by 1005 GMT, valuing the group at about 625 million pounds.

“While this may place pressure on the share price in the near term, we would view a placing as a positive development. Permira has long been seen as likely to dispose of its stake, with the overhang a cause of negative sentiment for the shares,” said Cazenove analyst Andrew Ford.

Permira owns stakes in British fashion retailer New Look, gaming firm the Gala Coral Group and frozen food company Birds Eye iglo.

Earlier this month Britvic posted a 16.3 percent rise in half-year profit and said it was seeing signs of improvement in the British soft drinks market.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Lau and Jon Hopkins; Editing by David Cowell)