The Belgian brewer Interbrew is to hand the importing and marketing rights to its Bass Ale brand to Labatt USA for a 12 to 18 month period. The deal will begin at the beginning of July when the current contract with the Guinness Bass Import Company runs out.

Labatt USA (LUSA) is a joint venture between Interbrew and the leading Latin American beverage group Femsa.

"As part of the LUSA portfolio, Bass Ale will be given the full support of Interbrew, including a commitment to the development of marketing plans, distributor programming and trade support. This agreement also allows the existing core brands of the Labatt USA portfolio to benefit from incremental marketing support and sales resources," Interbrew said.

It also said that Interbrew and FEMSA would assess the "desirability of a longer-term arrangement for LUSA to serve as the US distributor of Bass Ale", over the next 18 months.