Dunstable / UK. (wbp) British Whitbread PLC is pleased to announce that it has completed the sale of Costa Limited to the Coca-Cola Company. The sale proceeds of GBP 3.9 billion have been received in cash (see b:eu on 2018-09-03). Whitbread intends to start a share buyback programme, which is likely to commence following release of Whitbread’s third quarter trading update on 17 January 2019.
Whitbread has also reached an agreement with the Trustee of Whitbread’s defined benefit pension scheme, the Whitbread Group Pension Fund. The agreement will release Costa from its obligations to the Pension Fund and will involve a one-off contribution to the Pension Fund of up to GBP 380 million, which will significantly de-risk the Pension Fund’s investment strategy. This one-off contribution will replace the previously agreed deficit recovery plan, which would have required Whitbread to make total payments of GBP 326 million to the Pension Fund over the next four years.