Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. and Keurig Green Mountain Inc. are merging to create Keurig Dr Pepper (“KDP”), a new beverage company of scale with a portfolio of iconic consumer brands and unrivaled distribution capability to reach virtually every point-of-sale in North America.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Dr Pepper Snapple Board of Directors, Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders will receive $103.75 per share in a special cash dividend and retain 13% of the combined company.
KDP will have pro forma combined 2017 annual revenues of approximately $11 billion. This combination of two iconic beverage companies joins together beloved brands Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, A&W, Mott’s and Sunkist with leading coffee brand Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and the innovative Keurig single-serve coffee system, as well as more than 75 owned, licensed and partner brands in the Keurig system.
Larry Young, president and CEO of Dr Pepper Snapple, said, “This transaction will deliver significant and immediate value to our shareholders, along with the opportunity to participate in the long-term upside potential of our combined company and attract new brands and beverage categories to our platform in a fast-changing industry landscape. We are excited to combine with Keurig to build on the rich heritage and expertise of both companies and provide the highest-quality hot and cold beverages to satisfy every consumer throughout the day.”
Bob Gamgort, CEO of Keurig, said, “Our view of the industry through the lens of consumer needs, versus traditional manufacturer-defined segments, unlocks the opportunity to combine hot and cold beverages and create a platform to increase exposure to high-growth formats. The combination of Dr Pepper Snapple and Keurig will create a new scale beverage company which addresses today’s consumer needs, with a powerful platform of consumer brands and an unparalleled distribution capability to reach virtually every consumer, everywhere. We are fortunate to have talented leadership teams within both companies, and I look forward to working together with the Dr Pepper Snapple team to make this combination a success for all of our stakeholders.”
Bart Becht, partner and chairman of JAB Holding Company and Chairman of Keurig, said, “We are very excited about the prospect of KDP becoming a challenger in the beverage industry. Management’s proven operational and integration track record along with their commitment to innovation and potential future brand consolidation opportunities, while maintaining an investment grade rating, positions the company well for long-term success and material shareholder value creation.”
Dirk Van de Put, CEO of Mondelēz International, which will have a significant stake in KDP, added, “We have been very pleased with our coffee partnership with Keurig, and strongly support the strategic rationale for this transaction. We look forward to continuing to participate in the compelling value-creation and long-term growth opportunities inherent in this powerful beverage platform.”
Compelling Value for Shareholders
The company believes its complementary portfolio, access to high-growth segments of the beverage industry and shareholder value-focused management team will enable it to achieve sustained growth through continued innovation, brand consolidation opportunities and enhanced household penetration for its leading brands.
KDP targets realizing $600 million in synergies on an annualized basis by 2021. Dr Pepper Snapple expects to pay its first quarter ordinary course dividend of 58 cents per share. At the close of the transaction, the company expects to deliver an annual dividend of 60 cents per share.
The company will deliver strong cash flow generation and accelerate its deleveraging, with a target Net Debt/EBITDA of below 3.0x within two to three years after closing. KDP anticipates total net debt at closing to be approximately $16.6 billion and it anticipates maintaining an investment grade rating.
Keurig Performance Update
Since becoming a private company following its acquisition by a JAB-led investor group in March 2016, Keurig has renewed its marketing investment and improved its new brewer innovation pipeline, which has resulted in renewed top-line volume growth, increasing U.S. household penetration for Keurig brewers to 20%, from 17%, in the last two years. In the same period, Keurig has added key brand partners into the Keurig system with the help of strategic pod price reductions and value-added services. The combination of those two factors has allowed the company to improve its pod growth from the low-single digits to mid-single digits in the second half of calendar year 2017.
Keurig also delivered a 14.1% annual improvement in operating income and increased its operating margin by 710 basis points in the last two years behind significant productivity improvement programs. The company has also strengthened its balance sheet and significantly reduced its debt/EBITDA to 2.7x as of December 2017, from 5.5x as of March 2016, when the company was acquired.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders will receive a special cash dividend of $103.75 per share and will retain their shares in Dr Pepper Snapple. Upon closing of the transaction, Keurig shareholders will hold 87% and Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders will hold 13% of the combined company.
JAB Holding Company, a global investment firm with a proven track record of investing long-term capital in global consumer brands, and its partners, will together make an equity investment of $9 billion as part of the financing of the transaction. JAB will be investing equity capital from JAB Holding Company as well as through JAB Consumer Fund, an investment fund backed by a group of like-minded, long-term oriented investors. Both JAB Holding Company and JAB Consumer Fund are overseen by three senior partners: Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet. Entities affiliated with BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based merchant bank that provides long-term private capital and advice to closely held companies, are also investing alongside JAB. Upon closing of the transaction, JAB will be the controlling shareholder. Mondelēz International, JAB’s partner in Keurig, will hold an approximately 13-14% stake in the combined company.
The balance of the transaction financing will be provided through financing debt commitments from JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2018, subject to the approval of Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.
Management and Governance
Bob Gamgort, current CEO of Keurig, will serve as CEO of the combined company and Ozan Dokmecioglu, current chief financial officer of Keurig, will serve as its chief financial officer. Dr Pepper Snapple President and CEO Larry Young intends to transition to a role on KDP’s Board of Directors to help the new management team realize the full potential of the company. Bart Becht, of JAB, will serve as Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors and Bob Gamgort will become an Executive Member of the Board. Four additional directors will be appointed by JAB, two directors will be appointed by Dr Pepper Snapple, including Mr. Young, two directors will be appointed by Mondelēz International, and two independent directors will be appointed.
Keurig and Dr Pepper Snapple will continue to operate out of their current locations and Bob Gamgort, CEO of the combined company, will be based in Burlington, Mass. The combined company will draw on the leadership teams of both companies, who will continue running their respective businesses.