Carlsberg and Heineken Close in on Scottish & Newcastle

Jason Simpkins
Associate Editor

Carlsberg A/S and Heineken N.V. (HINKY) have upped their offer to buy Scottish & Newcastle PLC for a fourth time, with the hopes of finally winning the company over.

Carlsberg and Heineken have raised their offer to $15.2 billion after being repeatedly turned away. The previous offer was $14.8 billion.

Scottish & Newcastle, whose brands include Foster's lager and Strongbow cider, said it was confident in its future as an independent group. When news of the takeover attempt first broke, S&N said "the proposed break-up bid from Heineken and Carlsberg, the company's joint venture partner in BBH (Baltic Beverages Holding), is unsolicited and unwelcome."

Carlsberg, the largest Nordic brewer, and Scottish & Newcastle are currently partners in the BBH joint venture. Baltic Beverages owns Russia's largest brewer with a 38% market share, and other interests based in France and Greece.

If the takeover is successful, Carlsberg will take complete control of BBH and the French and Greek operations, while Heineken would get the U.K. and European brands. The statement didn't specify who would get Scottish & Newcastle's Asian assets.

In addition to advancing in Belgium and Portugal, a successful deal would give Heineken the top spot in the U.K., where it currently commands less than 1% of the market.

The takeover would also help the two companies to keep pace with SABMiller PLC and Molson Coors (TAP), two rivals that recently joined forces in a U.S.-focused joint venture. That brewery union could save as much as $500 million a year in manufacturing and shipping costs and provide the combined entity with 30% of the U.S. beer market.

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