CZECH: Budvar steers clear of political row
Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar has opted to stay out of a political spat developing over the future of the state-owned company.
Czech prime minister Jiri Paroubek has reportedly accused the opposing Civil Democrats (ODS) party of wanting to sell Budvar. The ODS swiftly denied the accusations and claimed Paroubek could not be trusted, the CTK Business News agency said today (30 August).
Any talk of a potential sale of Budvar is a political hot potato in the Czech Republic. The Czech public is known to be fiercely proud of the state-owned brewer, which is fighting Anheuser-Busch for the rights to the Budweiser trademark in numerous markets around the globe.
The brewer distanced itself from the political row when contacted by just-drinks this morning. "We decline to comment on this issue - we know nothing about it," a spokesman said.
Prime minister Paroubek told Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes yesterday that the ODS had been offered CZK40bn (US$1.8bn) for the brewery, based in the town of Ceske Budejovice. He said Budvar would not be sold as long as he remained in power.
"I do not want to run the risk that it will end up in the hands of Anheuser-Busch," he told the newspaper.
For its part, the ODS has reportedly drawn up a document outlining claims that Paroubek himself is interested in buying Budvar. "We could not accept his demand for control over state-owned companies like CEZ, Cepro, Lesy CR, Skodaexport, Ceska posta, and Budvar," the document reportedly reads.
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