At the eleventh hour, European private equity group Permira has ditched plans to bid for UK soft drinks group Britvic.

Although the reasons for the group’s withdrawal remain unclear, Permira, which already holds a 2.8% stake in Britvic, said it reserves the right to bid for the drinks maker in the next six months, if it gains the approval from management.

The investment group was expected to make a GBP600 million bid for the company, which produces brands including Tango and Robinsons, on October 2.

Rumors of a takeover bid have been rife since the group’s floatation in late 2005, and, according to reports from the Financial Times, French private equity group PAI Partners was also understood to be looking at the group. Should any of the potential suitors make a bid the takeover deal would also require the support of PepsiCo, which holds a 5% stake in Britvic.

On September 29, Britvic reported improved trading for the 20 weeks to September 3 Branded revenues were up 0.4% compared with the same period last year, driven by stills growth of 7.5%. Carbonates, however, were down 5.8% following a shift in consumer preferences for more healthy soft drinks.