Whitbread, Interbrew finalize deal

Belgian firm acquires British brewery for $600 million

May 25, 2000 - British brewer Whitbread completed the sale of its brewing interest to Belgium's Interbrew on Thursday, ending more than 250 years as a brewery. Whitbread was founded in 1742.


Interbrew will pay 400 million (about $600 million) for the beer business, which brews Boddington, as well as Stella Artois under license from Interbrew. It has a 16% share of the UK beer market. The family-owned Interbrew, which also owns Labatt and Rolling Rock, said it would finance the purchase from its own cash surpluses. It is planning a public stock offering at the end of the year, indicating it may be a serious bidder for the Bass or considering other acquisitions.

Bass, Brtiain's second largest brewer, is in talks to sell its brewing interest. Carlsberg is considered the leading contender, with Heineken and South African Breweries also interested.

Hugo Powell, chief executive of Interbrew, said: "Interbrew is the logical buyer for Whitbread's brewing business, not only because Whitbread already brews Stella Artois, the number one premium lager in the UK, under license but also because the Whitbread Beer Company perfectly complements our strategy of being a world brewer with a strong local presence in our key markets."

Along with Stella Artois, Whitbread also produces Heineken, Labatt, Hoegaarden and Sam Adams under license in the UK.

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