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Heineken to keep S&N pubs and brands

From The Publican

By Hamish Champ , 25-Jan-2008

Heineken says it expects to continue operating the pubs currently run by Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises, after the 800p a share bid tabled by the group and Carlsberg for UK brewer was accepted.

Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, Heineken's chairman and chief executive, said he saw a "very sustainable business model" going forward.

He said it was too early to say whether the brewer, which now owns S&N's UK operations, will look to buy more pubs or sell any of the 2,200 pubs in the S&NPE estate.

Van Boxmeer also said Heineken had no plans to withdraw any of S&N's brands. "We are happy to have four strong brands and add another one, Heineken," he added, although it was too early to outline details of its strategies for both the brands and the pub operation, van Boxmeer said.

Heineken has less than one per cent of the UK beer market, but van Boxmeer said clearly this situation would change fllowing the acquisition.

He said it was also too soon to discuss redundancies that would inevitably arise from the closure of S&N's international headquarters in Edinburgh. "We have only just tabled an offer that has been accepted," he added.

Given that Heineken had a corporate head office, S&N's would be "redundant", van Boxmeer said, although he wouldn't expand on the matter. Nor would he comment on the future of S&N's chief executive John Dunsmore.

He stressed the importance of dealing with people, however. "We always look at people and look forward to a harmonious integration of our two businesses.

Meanwhile trustees of the Scottish & Newcastle Pension Plan announced that Heineken will "accelerate the deficit payments previously agreed with S&N with an immediate injection of £50m into the plan".

The Trustee board arrangements will remain as at present with an equal balance of Independent, Member and Company-nominated directors. The Trustee directors also intend to maintain the current investment strategy.

Trustee Board chairman Dr Neville Bain said: "I am pleased to have reached this agreement with Heineken and am even more encouraged by the positive expressions of commitment made to me by senior Heineken executives.

"I believe that the plan should be well supported in the future with good security backing the members' pensions."

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