Blog: Olly WehringS&N - An end, but oh so many beginnings

Olly Wehring | 6 May 2008

The end of Scottish & Newcastle looks more like it’s the beginning of something yet more colourful.

In London one evening last week, the top brass at the now-defunct brewer gathered the city's analysts and media together to say thankyou and goodbye. Considering S&N’s traditionally rather staid summer drinks soirees, this one was a tad more lively, I can tell you.

However, what happens at press events stays at press events, I’m afraid – my lips are sealed.

Of course, the collective hair letting-down was well-deserved, for all present: The battle between S&N and the Carlsberg/Heineken consortium was protracted, tense and complex. And it could still have been even more so, with rumours - after a deal had been struck - linking the likes of SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch to counter-bids for S&N. If what just-drinks has heard is true, by the way, SABMiller came a lot closer to entering the fray than we all believed.

But, spilt milk…

The future, then, reads like a soap opera for both Carlsberg and Heineken. The best storyline, I feel, is the Indian one, with Heineken reportedly locking horns with Vijay Mallya over its inheritance of S&N’s stake in Mallya’s UB Group.

We’re getting conflicting messages on this one, though. The UB Group has suggested, via the Indian press, that Heineken cannot simply step into S&N’s shoes, and carry on regardless, especially with a potential conflict of interest through Heineken’s Asia Pacific Breweries operations in the country.

I’ve been told however, that UB Group’s braying could amount to nothing, and that Heineken could quite easily do what it jolly well pleases with the former S&N stake.

Either way, the delicate juggling act on Heineken’s hands in India is just the start of a new chapter of fun in the global brewing sector.

Where’s the popcorn?


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