Interbrew to sell Carling

Belgian brewer will retain Bass, other brands

Sept 20, 2001 - Interbrew, the world's second largest brewer, has announced it will break up Bass brewers and sell most of it, including top selling Carling.


The decision came after the United Kingdom ruled the Belgian brewer must sell all of Bass or at least Carling to overcome British competition concerns. Interbrew intends to finalize the sale of Carling Brewers, as soon as reasonably possible. "Now everything is concrete we will definitely start having talks with interested parties. We intend to close this by the end of this year," spokesman Corneel Maes said.

Three buyers are reported interested in Carling, including Heineken, South African Breweries and Anheuser-Busch.

Heineken spokeswoman Manel Vrijenhoek said the Dutch brewer was studying the British ruling and was always open for talks, just like other brewers.

Minister of Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt ruled that Interbrew had until Feb. 28 of 2002 to implement either option, accepting the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading on ways to overcome the competition problems. "We are pleased with the decision of the secretary of state, which clears the way for us to strengthen our U.K. platform as well as our international brand portfolio," said Interbrew chief executive Hugo Powell.

By selling Carling, Interbrew would be able to retain Bass's Tennent's business in Scotland, Caffrey's in Northern Ireland and the Bass ale brand. Interbrew said its retained Bass brands would give it a British market share of 15.8% when added to the Whitbread beer business bought last year, giving it a British beer portfolio with Stella Artois, Tennent's, Boddingtons, Hoegaarden and Bass ale.

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