Billionaire takeover for Brighouse drinks supplier

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc

American billionaire Warren Buffett has bought a chilled drinks equipment supplier for £690 million with one of its operations in Brighouse.

Engineering group IMI said it has agreed to sell its beverage dispensing and merchandising divisions for $1.1 billion to Marmon Group, which is owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company.

The beverage division makes cooling, mixing and dispensing systems, supplying large chains such as McDonalds with soft drinks equipment.

The merchandising arm spans customer research and analysis, and also supplies retailers with product displays.

Together, they employ about 3,200 staff worldwide, including about 430 in the UK.

The dispensing arm has operations at Russell Way, Brighouse, and Abingdon in Oxfordshire under the IMI Cornelius name, while the merchandising division includes a site at Loughborough called Artform International.

IMI chief executive Martin Lamb said the sale was a “major step” for the engineer.

He said: “It positions IMI as a highly-differentiated, market-leading flow control business focused entirely on industrial end markets.”