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SWITZ: Heineken Eichhof purchase under investigation

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Heineken's proposed purchase of the beverage division of Swiss company Eichhof Holdings is the subject of an investigation by the country's competition authorities.

The Netherlands-based brewer announced in May that it plans to buy Eichhof for CHF278.5m (US$281.1m). Swiss competition board WEKO warned late last week, however, that the purchase, which would give Heineken 23% market share in Switzerland, would result in a duopoly in the country's beer market, with Carlsberg's Feldschloesshen brewer.

WEKO has subsequently launched an extended review of the transaction, which should take around four months to complete.

"We are cooperating with the Swiss authorities in order to reach an outcome as soon as possible," a spokesperson for Heineken told just-drinks late on Friday (30 May).

Eichhof owns a brewery in Lucerne, which has a production capacity of 400,000 hectolitres and 2007 domestic beer sales of 361,000 hectolitres. Its main brand, Eichhof, is the leading mainstream beer in the Lucerne region. The company has an estimated 10% market share of the Swiss beer market, while soft drinks and wine account for 45% of total volumes. Heineken already owns one brewery in Switzerland, and currently accounts for 13% market share.


Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: Heineken, Carlsberg

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