British soft drink rivals Britvic and A.G. Barr have reached agreement on a long-anticipated $2.3 billion all-stock merger that will create one of Europe’s largest soft drink companies—the latest in a series of high-profile beverage mergers to yield transactional roles for large law firms.
 
Chelmsford, England-based Britvic, whose brands include J20, Robinsons, and Tango, is second only to Coca-Cola in soft drink sales volume in the U.K. Its proposed merger with Cumbernauld, Scotland-based A.G. Barr, known for the popular orange beverage Irn-Bru, calls for Britvic shareholders to own 63 percent of what will be known as Barr Britvic Soft Drinks and A.G. Barr shareholders to own the balance. 
 
Linklaters is representing Britvic on the proposed merger through London-based M&A partner Owen Clay, according to a spokesman for the Magic Circle firm. Clay is a longtime legal adviser to the company, having counseled it on both its $924 million initial public offering in 2005 and its acquisition of French soft drink company Fruite Enterprises in 2010.
 
Emma Thomas serves as Britvic’s general counsel and company secretary. Joanne Averiss, European general counsel for the world’s second-largest soft drink company PepsiCo, is a member of Britvic’s board of directors. Britvic acts as a PepsiCo bottler and distributor in the U.K. and Ireland.
 
Colin MacNeill, an M&A partner at leading Scottish firm Dickson Minto in Edinburgh, is taking the lead advising A.G. Barr on the merger, which has been in the works for some time, according to reports by The Deal and British legal publication The Lawyer.
 
Dickson Minto, which inked a strategic alliance with Willkie Farr & Gallagher in 2008, has long served as outside counsel to A.G. Barr, having handled the company’s 2008 acquisition of fruit juice company Groupe Rubicon. ( Julie Barr serves as company secretary for A.G. Barr.)
 
The merger between A.G. Barr and Britvic is just the latest notable beverage M&A deal to keep corporate lawyers busy. Last week, for instance, leading British firms Slaughter and May and Herbert Smith Freehills grabbed roles on Diageo’s $2.1 billion bid to acquire a controlling stake in India’s United Spirits Limited, according to our previous reports. London-based Diageo, the world’s largest spirits maker, is also keeping its outside lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic busy as it maneuvers for a potential acquisition of Mexican tequila brand Jose Cuervo.
 
In late September, Dutch brewer Heineken prevailed in a takeover battle with Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi to acquire Singapore’s Asia Pacific Breweries for $4.6 billion. Duane Morris and a handful of local Singaporean firms landed roles on the deal, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer, which reported on another transaction involving Asia Pacific Breweries earlier this year.