Interbrew-Beck's deal approved

Belgian brewer acquires Germany's leading exporter

Oct 26, 2001 - The European Commission has approved Interbrew's acquisition of German brewer Beck & Co. By acquiring Beck's, the Belgian brewer hopes to boost its position against Dutch rival Heineken in the U.S. premium beer market.


The Commission said it had cleared the deal after examining the situation in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.

"While these two companies have overlapping activities in Europe in the production and supply of beer, in particular premium lager, the transaction does not raise any competition concerns," the commission said in a statement.

Based in the north German port of Bremen, the Beck company was founded 128 years ago. Beck's is Germany leading beer exporter.

The European Union's antitrust watchdog said it initially had some doubts about the competitive position in Britain because Scottish and Newcastle, Britain's largest brewer, currently distributes Beck's beer there.

"The acquisition of Beck's by Interbrew would have given rise to the risk of collusion between two of the major brewers and suppliers of premium lager in Britain -- Scottish and Interbrew itself -- which might have given rise to concerns," it said.

Interbrew had agreed to make an amendment to the agreement with Scottish and Newcastle on the distribution of Beck's in Britain which removes any potential concerns, it said.

As well as producing brands such at Stella Artois and Hoegaarden in Belgium, Interbrew owns Labatt's and Rolling Rock in North America and the Bass and Whitbread brands in the United Kingdom.

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