UK brewers Young's & Co. and Charles Wells - the UK distributor of Corona beer - are to merge, the two companies announced today (23 May).

The merger will form Wells & Young's Brewing Company, in which Charles Wells will hold a 60% stake and Young's the remaining 40%.

The newly-created company will assume all of the brewing, wholesaling and distribution rights of both brewers, inheriting a stable of brands including Young's Bitter and Bombardier. Wells & Young's will also gain the UK licences to Red Stripe, Kirin and Corona.

The two companies' combined volumes will stand at around 400,000 barrels with Young's accounting for about a quarter.

Young's chief executive Stephen Goodyear said today: "Young's will continue to be a vertically integrated business with a substantial interest in a modern and efficient brewery. At the same time, this deal will enable us to make a step change in the financial performance of the company."

Goodyear will initially be on Wells & Young's board alongside colleague Peter Whitehead. Roger Ashworth and Paul Wells will join them with Wells as chairman. Nigel McNally, from Charles Wells, will be managing director.

Wells & Young's will be based at the Charles Wells site in Bedford with Young's in talks to sell its Ram Brewery in Wandsworth, south-west London.