Suntory closing in on deal to buy GSK drinks brands -sources
LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food is in advanced talks to buy GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena drinks for more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion), in a deal that would pre-empt an auction of the brands, two people following the process said.
A deal could be announced in the next few days, one of the sources said on Thursday.
Britain's biggest drugmaker announced plans in April to sell Lucozade and Ribena, which are big sellers in Britain but lack global reach, as the company seeks to focus its consumer health business.
The sale had been expected to attract interest from drinks companies and private equity houses, although Suntory was early on seen as a likely front-runner given its desire to build up its European drinks business after buying Orangina in 2009.
A GSK spokesman declined to comment on the situation, while Suntory officials were not immediately available to comment.
Lucozade and Ribena have annual sales of just over 500 million pounds a year and industry analysts have been expecting a buyer to pay around two times sales.
JP Morgan and Greenhill are acting for GSK on the sale.