The German Federal Cartel Office has approved the Bitburger Group's proposed acquisition of German breweries König-Brauerei and Licher Privatbrauerei from Carlsberg. Carlsberg will take ownerhsip of the breweries if it is successful in its acquisition of Holsten. It has been Carlsberg's intention to sell on König-Brauerei and Licher since it announced its bid for Holsten in January.

"With this approval, one of the conditions for the takeover offer from Carlsberg Breweries to the shareholders of Holsten-Brauerei AG has been fulfilled," Calrsberg said in a statement.

The remaining conditions not yet fulfilled relate inter alia to the EU Commission's clearance of the takeover of Holsten-Brauerei and the achievement of a level of acceptance of no less than 75% of the issued Holsten shares. The acceptance period for the takeover offer expires on 18 March 2004 at 12:00 noon (CET).