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NETHERLANDS: Grolsch upbeat about InBev, A-B deal

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Dutch brewer Grolsch has dismissed concern from analysts that the prospects of its namesake brand in the US could be hurt by InBev's US deal with Anheuser-Busch.

Investment bank ING today (4 December) lowered its recommendation on Grolsch to 'hold' from 'buy' after InBev last week struck a distribution deal with A-B.

The Budweiser brewer signed an agreement to handle InBev brands, including Stella Artois and Beck's, just eight months after agreeing to handle Grolsch in the US.

ING analysts Gerard Rijk and Marco Gulpers called the InBev deal "a negative" for Grolsch. There could be a "dilution of Anheuser-Busch's interest" in the Grolsch beer brand, the analysts said.

"Anheuser-Busch will now, as a result of its deal with InBev, have a large number of German and Belgian brands in its portfolio, all of which have the same positioning to Grolsch (in the US market)," they told the AFX News agency.

However, a Grolsch spokesperson said the brewer had "no reason to doubt" A-B's belief in its brand.

"There is no reason to doubt the position of Grolsch in the future," she told just-drinks. "We both believe in the strength of the brand, the import segment in the US is very big and there is a lot of room to grow."

She added: "We see (the InBev deal) as another confirmation that A-B is very interested in the import segment in the US."


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