Bass chief calls for swift decision on C-T merger

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Related tags: Mergers and acquisitions, Tony blair

Bass chairman Sir Ian Prosser has urged new trade and industry secretary Margaret Beckett to make a swift decision on his company's proposed merger...

Bass chairman Sir Ian Prosser has urged new trade and industry secretary Margaret Beckett to make a swift decision on his company's proposed merger with Carlsberg Tetley (C-T).

 

Bass has been waiting since August for approval from Westminster for the deal that would return it to the position of Britain's largest brewer.

 

"I find it extraordinary that a deal on which so many people's livelihoods depends has faced 10 months of delay," said Prosser at the announcement of Bass's interim results.

 

"I think the merger will safeguard jobs and brands," he added.

 

Bass hopes it will have news of Beckett's decision later this month, but the company has hinted that it would drop plans for the acquisition if Beckett demanded that it sell too many pubs or brands.

 

"If conditions prove too punitive and fail to create shareholder value then we could walk away from the deal," said finance director Richard North.

 

Bass unveiled pre-tax profits up 10 per cent to £318m for the 28 weeks to April 12.

 

Best performers were among Bass's pubs and restaurants, with especially good results from O'Neills Irish pubs and the All Bar One chain.

 

Coral Betting Shops almost doubled their profits to £15m, but the Gala Bingo chain suffered as a result of competition from the National Lottery.

 

Analysts are looking for other acquisitions, possibly including a number of hotels in Europe and the William Hill betting chain from Brent Walker.

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