The Scottish & Newcastle rumour mill went into overdrive this weekend, with reports claiming the brewer is looking at ways to destroy any potential bid from Carlsberg and Heineken.

A report in the Sunday Times yesterday (21 October) claimed that S&N is considering selling its Finnish unit, Hartwall, which, the paper said, holds S&N's 50% stake in Baltic Beverages Holding.

Carlsberg holds the other half of BBH.

By selling Hartwall, the paper said, S&N would circumvent the 'silver bullet' clause it has with Carlsberg over BBH. If Carlsberg were to offer to buy BBH from S&N for a certain amount, S&N could refuse the offer, then have the right to acquire Carlsberg's stake for the same amount the Danish brewer initially offered.

When contacted by just-drinks today, however, an analyst pointed out that Hartwall is a separate unit to BBH, with S&N actually holding the stake in BBH and not Hartwall. "It's a fairly inaccurate report," the analyst said. "Hartwall and BBH are separate.

"The way I see it, S&N doesn't really have a poison pill policy when it comes to BBH. If S&N were to sell its stake in BBH, then S&N isn't really worth very much. It also wouldn't be a good move as far as its shareholders were concerned."

The Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, claimed that S&N is mulling bringing in a strategic partner, with SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch having already made contact with the UK-based brewer.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for S&N was cited in another report this weekend, from The Evening News in Scotland, as warning that any hostile bid from Carlsberg and Heineken would have an impact on the Scottish government's alcohol safety campaign.

"There are alcohol questions," the spokesperson was cited as saying. "A major part of the campaign requires the constructive support and engagement of a locally headquartered business. Do you think constructive support would come if S&N is run from Amsterdam?"

No-one was available at S&N to comment on the reports when contacted by just-drinks today.