SOFT drinks group Britvic was yesterday preparing for life on the stock market after announcing plans to float with an estimated value of £800m.

The maker of brands that include Robinsons and Tango ranks behind only Coca-Cola in the market for fizzy and still soft drinks in the UK, generating sales of nearly £700m a year.

The company will be chaired by Gerald Corbett, who was chief executive of Railtrack from 1997-2000 and was in charge when the Hatfield rail crash occurred in 2000.

Ending months of speculation about a flotation move, InterContinental will sell its 47.5 per cent stake in Britvic, while leisure company Whitbread has also agreed to sell its 23.75 per cent stake.

Pernod Ricard, which acquired a 23.75 per cent holding through its acquisition of Allied Domecq earlier this year, will also sell.

In the year to October 2, Britvic earned £78.7m on a turnover of £698.2m.

In addition to Robinsons and Tango, Britvic manufactures J2O and Fruit Shoot. It also produces and markets Pepsi and 7Up on behalf of the US drinks company PepsiCo.

PepsiCo will retain its five per cent stake in Britvic and has renewed its exclusive licence with the company for another 15 years, giving it the right of first refusal on all new fizzy drinks it wants distributed in the UK.