Heineken has shrugged off investor criticism that it has missed out on recent takeover targets due to its ownership structure.

The Dutch brewing giant was responding to comments from a shareholder rights group that it would put pressure on Heineken to unwind its ownership structure.

"We have never missed out on an acquisition because of the structure," a Heineken spokesperson told just-drinks today (28 March). Members of the Heineken family hold a controlling stake in Heineken Holding, which in turn owns just over 50% in Heineken NV.

The spokesperson added: "We have done many acquisitions - just because we didn't do the Bavaria acquisition for instance, is nothing to do with the share structure. It's to do with value and what you pay for it."

The disgruntled shareholder rights group, named VEB, said the structure limited Heineken's ability to compete with fellow multinational brewers.

"The structure has a strangling effect on the company. This is the right time to do something about it," VEB director Peter Paul de Vries told the Financial Times yesterday.

The Heineken spokesperson said VEB would be able to raise its concerns at the company's AGM in April.