UPDATE 1-Funds line up $1.7 bln bids for drinks bottler Refresco Gerber - sources

Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:59pm EST
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(Adds more comment by sources, details on Refresco Gerber)

By Pamela Barbaglia and Martinne Geller

LONDON Jan 21 (Reuters) - Dutch soft drinks bottler Refresco Gerber has attracted bids from three private equity funds valuing the business at around 1.5 billion euros ($1.74 billion), sources familiar with the process said.

PAI Partners, Pamplona Capital Management and Platinum Equity have emerged as the only bidders left in the second round of an auction, with a late February deadline, the sources said.

The company, which bottles drinks for grocers like Tesco and brands like Del Monte and Innocent Smoothies, expects to fetch a multiple of seven to eight times its core earnings of around 200 million euros, one of the sources said.

Its adviser JPMorgan aims to wrap up the process in around a month, two of the sources said.

A spokesman for PAI declined to comment while representatives at Refresco Gerber, Pamplona and Platinum were not immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment.

Refresco, based in Rotterdam, has annual revenue of around 2 billion euros and employs over 4,700 people in nine countries including Germany, France and England.

The sale, which was launched last year as a "dual-track" where companies weigh both a sale and a float, has failed to draw interest from industry peers, two sources said, adding that a series of private equity funds have been put off by Refresco's "rich" valuation.   Continued...