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Keurig, Dr Pepper Snapple to merge in US$18.7b deal

[BOSTON] Keurig Green Mountain Inc. agreed to combine with Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc in a deal that will pay US$18.7 billion in cash to shareholders of the soft-drink company and give them a stake in the coffee and soda giant controlled by the billionaire Reimann family's JAB Holding Co.

Snapple shareholders will get  US$103.75 a share in a special cash dividend and retain 13 per cent of the combined entity, the companies said Monday. The dividend is about 9.2 per cent above where Snapple shares closed on Friday.

JAB, the Vienna-based Reimann family's investment vehicle, has been expanding its food and drink businesses as it sheds fashion holdings such as Jimmy Choo Plc. Keurig Dr Pepper, as the new company will be known, will have pro forma 2017 revenue of about US$11 billion and bring together iconic US brands including Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, A&W, Mott's and Sunkist with leading coffee brand Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The deal vaults JAB into competition with the likes of Coca-Cola Co and Pepsico Inc in soft drinks, moving it beyond fast food and coffee, where the privately held company has acquired Panera Bread, Caribou, Peet's and other chains.

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JAB's acquisition spree has been led by consumer-goods industry veterans Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet, on behalf of the Reimann family.

The deal "unlocks the opportunity to combine hot and cold beverages and create a platform to increase exposure to high-growth formats," said Bob Gamgort, chief executive officer of Keurig.

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