Carlyle Group exits Dr. Pepper/Seven Up

The Washington, DC-based firm will sell its share of the US bottling unit to joint venture partner, Cadbury Schweppes.

In a widely anticipated move, the British candy and beverage maker Cadbury Schweppes announced today it will pay $353 million (£197 million) for the 53 percent of the Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group it does not already own from its co-owner, The Carlyle Group.

Cadbury Schweppes is the world’s third-largest soft drink maker, and the Dr. Pepper/Seven Up unit is the largest independent bottler in the United States. Cadbury makes Dr. Pepper, 7UP and Snapple drinks in North America, and analysts say gaining tighter control over distribution may make it easier for the company to spin off its US beverage arm in the future.

Cadbury and Carlyle bought Dr. Pepper Bottling Group in a 1999 joint venture for $691 million. The bottling group generated $2 billion in revenue last year and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $204 million, Cadbury said.

Earlier this year The Blackstone Group and Lion Capital bought Cadbury’s European beverage business for about $2.2 billion, after unsuccessfully attempting to acquire UK drinks group Allied Domecq in the previous year. The two private equity firms now own a portfolio of brands including Schweppes, Orangina, Oasis and TriNa.