Interbrew, Bass finalize deal

Belgian brewer will become world's second largest

June 14, 2000 - Belgian brewing giant Interbrew announced that, as expected, it will acquire the brewing unit of Britain's Bass for £2.3 billion ($3.4 billion).


The acquisition comes less than a month after Interbrew bought Whitbread's beer interest and gives the Belgian brewer 32% of the UK market, including the top-selling UK beer Carling. The Bass transaction will vault Interbrew, which makes Stella Atrois, past Heineken as the world's No. 2 brewer. Anheuser-Busch is No. 1.

"It was an important transaction in a very important beer market," said Interbrew Chief Executive Hugh Powell.

Powell said Interbrew expects more acquisitions. "We certainly have the means. Our declared interest is in playing the role of consolidator," he said. "We will continue a process of organic growth and where transactions become available completing them."

Interbrew plans a stock offering later this year that will help fund this acquisition and could provide cash for others.

In the deal, Bass also sold Interbrew its UK joint venture with Royal Grolsch and its Czech beer interests including the Staropramen brand. Bass, which controls 24% of the UK market, said the deal required approval by the European Commission but not Britain. Analysts said the Commission may make Interbrew divest some brands.

Bass ends a 223-year connection with the beer industry, from when William Bass started brewing in England's brewing capital of Burton-on-Trent in 1777. Its familiar red triangle was the first trademark registered in England. It announced earlier this year it would selling its brewing interest to focus on its hotel and leisure business.

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