Interbrew shoots for No. 2

Bass acquisition would vault Belgian brewer past Heineken

June 6, 2000 - Reports indicate that Belgium's Interbrew is the new leader in the bidding for the brewing interests of Britain's Bass and a deal will be announced within weeks.


This would be the second major acquisition for Interbrew within a month. It just closed a £400 million deal to acquire British brewer Whitbread. Bass is expected to fetch £2.2 billion ($3.3 billion). Interbrew would become Britain's largest company and No. 2 in the world, pushing Dutch brewer Heineken to third.

Interbrew, producer of Stella Artois, also owns Labatt in Canada and Rolling Rock in the United States.

By combining the Whitbread and Bass operations, Interbrew would cut annual costs by between 50 million and 100 million pounds, analysts said. Neither Denmark's Carlsberg nor Heineken could recognize similar savings with the acquisition. Carlsberg had been considered the leading candidate to buy Bass until Interbrew stepped to the fore.

Bass's U.K. operations include six breweries at Belfast, Glasgow, Tadcaster, Birmingham, Burton-on-Trent and Alton and distribution operations. Bass has indicated it plans to discontinue brewing to focus on its hotel and leisure business.

Bass is Britain's second largest brewer, after Scottish and Newcastle, with a U.K. market share of about 24% and owns brands such as Britain's best-selling beer Carling, Caffrey's, Worthington and Bass.

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