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November 17, 2003

GERMANY: Holsten in sale talks with Bitburger

Holsten-Brauerei AG is reportedly in talks with one of its competitors to sell its units Koenig and Lich.

The German brewer Holsten-Brauerei AG is reportedly in talks with competitors, which may see the break up of the company.

Die Welt reported on Saturday that Holsten is currently talking to Bitburger about the potential sale of its Koenig and Lich brands.

The newspaper also said that the two are discussing the possible sale of Holsten’s mineral water business Gerolsteiner. Die Welt cited company sources for the news.

The reports also said that Carlsberg was tipped to acquire other brands from the company such as Holsten and Feldschloesschen.

Speculation has surrounded the future of Holsten since early this year and a number of companies are thought to have looked at the possibility of buying Germany’s second largest brewer outright.

However, in late October the German press reported that Holsten’s major shareholder Christian Eisenbeiss was struggling to find buyers for his 48% stake in the brewery. Holsten declined to comment. The news story prompted Holsten’s share price to fall as much as 12.12% to €38.01.

The paper claimed that industry and banking sources said that no potential buyers were interested in buying Eisenbeiss’s shares. It said that many investors had been scared off by a new government law affecting drinks cans. A 25% deposit on throwaway cans has been imposed affecting Holsten, whose beer is mainly sold in cans.

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