The Belgian brewing giant Interbrew announced today that it had reached an agreement with Diageo to transfer to Interbrew all import and distribution rights for Bass Ale in the US, in a deal worth US$105m.

Interbrew will obtain operating control of the Bass Ale brand in the US, as of 30 June, 2003.

Bass Ale accounts for more than 25% of all super-premium imported beers in the US and the brand will give Interbrew operational control of 7 out of the top 12 best-selling imported beers, as well as 23.7% of the import segment. In addition, Bass Ale's 700,000-hectolitres volume will significantly strengthen Interbrew's position in the American on-trade market, the company said.

"We look forward to working with Diageo on developing Bass® Ale in the US market during the transition period until June 2003," said Hugo Powell, Interbrew's CEO. "I firmly believe that Bass® Ale will considerably enhance our portfolio of brands, and strengthen our position in the rapidly growing import segment of the market."