DENMARK: Carlsberg hoping for future big buys

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The head of Carlsberg has told the Danish press that the company could make some big purchases in the coming years. The comments come in the same week that Carlsberg has confirmed it is looking to close some of its western European breweries.

Speaking to daily newspaper Boersen, Nils Smedegaard Andersen said that the brewer may move to acquire after it has reduced its debt to DKK20bn from the DKK30bn level it had in the spring last year.

"In 3-5 years time it is my guess that we will have made several large transactions," he told the paper. "I have nothing concrete to say about how big and what they are, but we have reduced our debt to a reasonable level. That means we can make acquisitions if the right candidates turn up."

Speaking to just-drinks yesterday (29 September), Carlsberg spokesman Jens Peter Skaarup confirmed that the brewer will close some of its facilities in western Europe, where the mature market has hit Carlsberg hard. Although no fixed plans have been drawn up by the company yet, speculation suggests that up to half of Carlsberg's 29 breweries in the region will shut.

The paper also suggested that an attempt by Scottish & Newcastle to buy Carlsberg out of their eastern European joint venture, Baltic Beverages Holding, could not be excluded.

"At the moment we have nothing to say about this apart from saying that we have a good collaboration," Smedegaard Andersen said.

A clause in the agreement between the two companies means that one shareholder has to offer its stake in BBH to the other first, before buying the other's stake.

"But if S&N tries a shoot-out on us, or if they are bought by someone else, then we must make up our minds about what to do," he said.

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