The Dutch brewer Heineken said yesterday that it had surpassed the acceptance rate needed for its takeover of the Austrian brewer BBAG.

Heineken said in a statement that it held 80% of the shares in the holding company of Austria's BBAG, passing the 75 percent threshold on which the offer was contingent.

The deal will make Heineken the largest brewer in Central Europe. The deal, which was announced in early May was a €1.9 billion bid. In the statement Heineken said it expected to buy the remaining shares of the holding company over the next two years.

Heineken's next steps will be to seek regulatory approval and then to launch a public offer for the outstanding shares of BBAG and its sub-holding Brau Union. Heineken will make offers at prices of €124.00 per BBAG share and €127.27 per BU share. These offers are expected to be made in the final quarter of 2003/first quarter of 2004.

After completion of the transaction, Heineken and BBAG will combine all their operations in Central Europe in the newly formed company Brau Union AG. This company will be responsible for all operations in 13 Central European countries, namely: Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and Albania.