C&C buys U.S. cider firm as core UK market weakens

DUBLIN Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:06am EDT

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's C&C (GCC.I) is to buy U.S. firm Vermont Hard Cider for $305 million as it bids to make up for weakness its core UK market, where sales of its flagship Magners brand slumped during a wet summer.

The United States is a key market for C&C, with sales of Magners growing 16 percent during the six months to August, compared with a 17 percent fall in the United Kingdom, where the brand faces growing competition.

The acquisition of Vermont, which produces Woodchuck, the largest domestic cider brand in the United States, is due to be completed by February, subject to regulatory approval.

C&C, which also sells Tennants lager and cider under the Bulmers and Gaymers brands, said on Tuesday operating profit for the year to February 2013 would be at the lower end of its previously stated guidance of 112 million to 118 million euros.

Operating profit for the six months ended August were 65.6 million euros, 2.7 percent lower than the same period last year. The average forecast of four analysts polled by Reuters was 65 million euros.

C&C said the Vermont business expected to generate $15 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the 12 months to end-2012.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter)

(This story corrects to remove redundant euros in lead)

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