Heineken "to make play for Carling

Related tags Interbrew Holding company Patricia hewitt

Heineken is about to make a £1.2 billion swoop for the Carling brand, according to industry sources. Interbrew is expected to be ordered to sell the...

Heineken is about to make a £1.2 billion swoop for the Carling brand, according to industry sources.

Interbrew is expected to be ordered to sell the UK's biggest selling lager brand by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)this week to resolve the long-running competition dispute over the Belgian's brewing giants' purchase of Bass Brewers.

Heineken is said to want to use Carling as a means of repositioning its own brand as a premium lager, which would then put Heineken head-to-head on the bar top with Interbrew's flagship brand Stella Artois.

Despite the prospect of a looming brands war, Interbrew will be consoled by the likelihood that it will be allowed to keep the Tennants' business in Scotland, the Caffreys brewery in Northern Ireland, and the Bass ale brand. The DTI had originally ordered Interbrew to dispose of the entire Bass Brewers business, which it acquired last year.

However, the high court ordered the Government to reassess its decision. The so called 'Carling remedy' is one of four possible compromises put out for consultation earlier this year, and is thought to be the preferred solution of the Office of Fair Trading, which made its recommendations to trade secretary Patricia Hewitt last month.

A DTI spokeswoman said on Monday that the timing of Mrs Hewitt's announcement was still confidential. "We can't give any indication on the timing of an announcement. A decision will be made by ministers as soon as practicable."

The other leading contender among potential bidders, South African Breweries, is known to be more interested in acquiring entire businesses than individual brands.

  • A group of shareholders in Heineken Holdings, the brewer's parent company, has asked the Dutch courts to investigate the holdings efforts to improve its share price. The disgruntled shareholders objects to the way the value of their stake is reduced by discounted share trading between the two companies. The holding company is controlled by Freddy Heineken, grandson of the firm's founder.

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