CZECH: PM to visit Budvar for management talks
The Czech Prime Minister is to visit state-owned brewer Budejovicky Budvar on Friday (6 April) to hold talks on the company's future, just-drinks understands.
Mirek Topolanek and the Czech Agriculture Minister, Petr Gandalovic, will meet with Budvar's management to discuss the brewer's outlook, recent distribution deals and its trademark battle with Anheuser-Busch.
However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, which oversees the running of Budvar, said the issue of whether to privatise the brewer would not be the subject of discussion.
The spokesman said: "The Minister of Agriculture and the Prime Minister have said that this Cabinet will discuss the question of whether or not to privatise Budvar but it will not be one of the issues (for discussion)."
Local reports have suggested that the Czech government wants to study claims that Budvar has recently signed "disadvantageous" sales contracts with multinational brewers, including A-B.
The spokesman said the Ministry of Agriculture has no evidence that Budvar's recent deals - which also include three contracts with Carlsberg - would work to the detriment of the company. However, he said Budvar's recent deals would be discussed.
The spokesman added: "The talks will concern the future development of Budvar and also the development of the trademark dispute with Anheuser-Busch."
For decades, Budvar has been locked in a dispute over the rights to the Budweiser name with US brewing giant Anheuser-Busch. The dispute is ongoing, with lawsuits from both sides in front of courts around the world.
In January, the two brewers put their differences aside in an attempt to capitalise on booming sales of imported beer in the US.
A-B will import and sell the Czechvar brand in the US, where Budejovicky Budvar is unable to sell its flagship beer using the Budweiser trademark.
Officials at A-B were unavailable for comment as just-drinks went to press.
A spokesman for Carlsberg, which has this year secured distribution rights to the Budvar brand in Finland, Sweden and Croatia, insisted the contract between the two companies are "win-win agreements" for both brewers.
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