S&N snubs Carlsberg, Heineken buyout plot

18 October, 2007

Executives at Scottish & Newcastle warned they would fight to maintain the UK brewer’s independence, after it emerged Carlsberg and Heineken were in talks over a joint buyout of the group.

Any offer from Carlsberg and Heineken would be “unsolicited and unwelcome”, a defiant Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) board said.

Carlsberg and Heineken confirmed Tuesday they were in talks to buy and carve up S&N, the UK’s largest brewer. No formal offer has been tabled, but it is thought a buyout could value S&N at around £7.5bn, or 800p per share.

But S&N executives said: “S&N is confident in its future as an independent group with a combination of strong growth in emerging markets and cash generation in developed markets.”

They advised shareholders to take no action. Shares in S&N have rocketed during October, and stood at 760p Thursday morning.

Carlsberg was linked with a move for S&N earlier this year, but it is understood to have entered discussions with Heineken to avoid competition concerns. By splitting S&N, it is hoped these concerns could be avoided.

Current proposals would see Heineken take S&N’s business in the UK, including the John Smiths brand and rights to Foster’s, as well as operations in several other European markets.

Carlsberg would take operations in France and Greece, as well as complete control of its prosperous joint venture with S&N in Eastern Europe, BBH.

Potential rivals to a Carlsberg, Heineken offer have yet to emerge. One candidate could be Anheuser Busch. But another rival, SABMiller, previously described the European beer market as “singularly unattractive”.

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