Schweppes May Buy Sunkist, Canada Dry

Times Staff Writer

The British firm that makes Schweppes ginger ale, soda and tonic water confirmed Friday that it is engaged in negotiations to purchase Canada Dry and Sunkist, the soft-drink subsidiaries of RJR Nabisco.

Cadbury Schweppes PLC, a 202-year-old Birmingham, England-based candy and soft-drink firm, declined to specify when the results of the negotiations might be disclosed. However, industry beverage analysts said they expect the two companies to announce an agreement sometime early next week. The fruit drink Hawaiian Punch, also owned by RJR Nabisco, may also be included in the sale, analysts said.

If an agreement is reached, the sale of Nabisco's soft-drink units to Schweppes would catapult it from the 13th-largest soft-drink seller in the United States to the third largest.

It would rank behind No. 1 Coca-Cola Co., which recently announced its purchase of No. 3 Dr Pepper, and behind No. 2 Pepsico, which earlier this year signed an agreement to purchase No. 4 Seven-Up Co. (Although announced, the mergers--subject to antitrust review--have not been consummated.)

Takeover rumors have swirled around Cadbury Schweppes since September, when it reported sagging profits. First-half net income fell 18% to $24 million.

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