Refresco takes first step into North America by acquiring Whitlock Packaging

  • First acquisition in North America by Refresco creates second growth platform in the largest soft drinks market globally.
  • Continued execution of buy & build strategy adding 900 million liters to Refresco Group volume of 6 billion liters, while increasing co-packing volumes from 25% to 34% of group total.
  • More than 80% overlap in co-packing customer base of Whitlock Packaging and Refresco.

Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 26, 2016 - Refresco Group N.V. (Euronext Amsterdam: RFRG), the leading European bottler of soft drinks and fruit juices for A-brands and retailers, today announced it has agreed to acquire US-based bottler Whitlock Packaging. The purchase price is USD 129 million, equal to EUR 117 million [1] , on a debt and cash free basis. This represents an EV/adjusted EBITDA multiple of 7.3x and is in line with the average multiple paid by Refresco on previous transactions. The acquisition is expected to be earnings accretive in the first full year of consolidation.

Refresco has established its leading position in Europe over the past 16 years through the successful execution of its buy & build strategy. The acquisition of Whitlock Packaging represents a new chapter in Refresco's growth strategy as it enters the North American market for the first time. The acquisition of a large scale US bottler is Refresco's first step towards expansion beyond Europe and creates a strong second platform for further growth in North America.

Strategic rationale
The acquisition of Whitlock Packaging significantly expands Refresco's addressable market and substantially grows its co-packing to 34% of total group volume. Whitlock Packaging has long-standing relationships with leading A-brands in the US soft drinks market and more than 80% of Whitlock Packaging volumes relate to customers currently being served by Refresco in Europe. Refresco will now be able to provide A-brands and retail customers with reliable supply chain solutions in Europe and North America.

Refresco has developed a successful private label business in Europe and intends to leverage its experience to further develop Whitlock Packaging's private label capabilities. It will contribute to Whitlock Packaging's expansion with a focus on innovation, procurement, operational excellence and industry best practices.

Refresco intends to continue executing its buy & build strategy both in Europe and North America by making selective investments and acquisitions, and targeting value-creating opportunities. The acquisition of Whitlock Packaging is the first step towards establishing a similar market position in North America as Refresco has achieved in Europe, with comparable returns.

CEO Refresco, Hans Roelofs : "For some time we have been carefully exploring opportunities to enter the North American market and create a second platform for growth. Whitlock Packaging provides a perfect strategic fit, as it is a market-leading player focused primarily on co-packing - an area of our business that we actively want to grow. Whitlock Packaging adds a new and exciting platform for growth for Refresco in North America. About 80% of the customers of Whitlock Packaging are already customers of Refresco in Europe. As such, Whitlock Packaging offers the opportunity to grow in a new market alongside existing customers, while offering them similar and reliable supply chain solutions as we do in Europe. I am delighted to welcome Whitlock Packaging to the Refresco Group and look forward to further developing our North American business together."

[1] At USD/EUR rate of 1.098. Subject to final adjustments at closing.

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Refresco acquires US-based Whitlock Packaging

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Source: Refresco via GlobeNewswire