just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
In This Issue...
The rumbling speculation surrounding Scottish & Newcastle and Carlsberg got a little louder last week. Although sceptics amongst you would be justified in pointing out that there is little there that we haven’t all heard before, the feeling here at just-drinks Towers is that there could be more meat to the rumours this time round.
Of course, responding to reports that a “major deal is likely”, a spokesperson for Carlsberg remained staunchly tight-lipped when contacted by just-drinks. S&N’s “business as usual” quote, meanwhile, has been used so many times, the needle feels like it’s stuck on the record. And yet, those in the know still believe that something is in the water here. In a research note, investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort suggested the likelihood of an acquisition of S&N by Carlsberg is at 70%. The key piece in the jigsaw is the Baltic Beverages Holding joint venture between the two brewers. The bank highlighted the delicate nature of the ‘Russian roulette’ clause in the companies’ BBH agreement (click here for further details on this) and why this may be the trigger for a full takeover bid.
“The only way for Carlsberg to be certain of keeping its 50% stake in BBH is to own 100%,” Dresdner Kleinwort said. “The only way to get 100% is to buy S&N.”
It sounds like S&N may have to prepare volume two of ‘The Best of Business as Usual’.
Elsewhere, in another long-running acquisition saga, India’s Tata Tea was mooted as mulling a bid for Cadbury Schweppes’ US beverage business. Local reports have suggested that Tata is planning to combine with a joint bid being lodged by private equity group Blackstone and Lion Capital for the Cadbury drinks businesses.
The existence of private equity groups amongst the bidders confirms the growing interest this financial sector is taking in the industry. PEGs remain a hugely misunderstood sector but they’re a rising presence in the drinks world. Keep your eyes peeled for an analysis of private equity groups and their role within the drinks industry, which we’ll be running later this week.
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
There has rarely been dull moment in recent years for anyone concerned with Stolichnaya, with a long-running rights dispute over the brand name, a switch to bottling the brand outside Russia and the transfer of an exclusive international sales and marketing agreement from Allied Domecq to Pernod Ricard. In the second part of this month’s Just the Answer vodka double, Olly Wehring spoke with Ian Jamieson, president of The Stolichnaya Brand Organisation, about the brand’s future within the Pernod portfolio.
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