State-owned Budejovicky Budvar could be partially sold off with a strategic shareholder preferably brought in, Czech minister of agriculture Petr Gandalovic said in a debate on the country’s public television network.
And the leading candidate to buy into the brewery?
American Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, according to the Financial Times.
Two bankers indicated that Heineken would also be interested in the brewery, but that A-B had better reason to pay the high price the Czech’s are seeking.
Trademark issues surrounding the Budweiser name, the first banker said, constitute grounds for A-B to pay a premium for the company. A-B, he said, would resolve the issue and save the company some $25 million in legal costs per year: “more than the net income of [Budejovicky Budvar].”
A company source at Budvar declined to comment on potential bidders. The company source did confirm earlier reports that the firm is being converted into a joint-stock company. The ministry of agriculture, the company source said, has selected a financial and a legal advisor and is now looking for a Czech auditor. The company source emphasized that the ministry of agriculture the privatization process.
The agricultural minster said these steps would help assure that Budvar’s trademark is protected.