Scottish & Newcastle has sold Belgium-based Stassen ciders back to the family that originally sold the company.

The UK brewer confirmed to just-drinks today (22 January) that the Stassen family has acquired the company for an undisclosed sum. S.A. Stassen was sold to H.P.Bulmer in 1992, with Bulmer being bought by S&N in 2003.

"It's a tiny part of the business," the S&N spokesperson said. "Our main cider business is in Hereford (in the UK)." The spokesperson likened the sale to the divestment of T&R Theakston in the UK in 2003. "They bought the name, but our contracts with them remain in place," he said.

Last year, the company, directed by Philippe Stassen since July 2003, employed 75 people and produced 25m litres including 20m litres of cider, which represented an increase of more than 20% compared to 2006. The company has an annual turnover in the region of EUR25m (US$36.4m).

S&N remains in talks with Carlsberg and Heineken over a possible takeover by the two European brewers. The UK Takeover Panel has set a deadline for this Thursday (24 January) for a formal bid to be submitted.