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Brewery buy-in talks collapse

Published on 02/12/2003

2 December 2003

DORTMUND – Germany’s fourth-largest beer brewing and soft drink beverages group Brau & Brunnen confirmed Tuesday that talks with potential buyers for a 56 percent stake in the company had been broken off.

At a press conference, a defiant company chairman Michael Hollmann said Munich-based HypoVereinsbank was to remain the Dortmund brewery group’s chief shareholder.

“The continuation of the partnership with HypoVereinsbank is currently the optimal solution for Brau & Brunnen, for shareholders and above all for the work force,” Hollmann said, while accusing the potential buyers of not having been open or fair in the talks.

Hollmann said the talks on acquiring the bank’s 56 percent stake failed not over the price tag, but over the potential buyers’ plans for Brau & Brunnen afterward.

While he did not cite details about the talks with the US investment company One Equity Partner (OEP) and the German beer brewing company Radeberger, a subsidiary of the Oetker group, industry sources said there was a prospect of the Dortmund group being broken up after a sale of the majority stake.

“They were trying to skin the bear before they had captured it,” the brewery group’s chief executive officer said.

Hollmann said Brau & Brunnen next year would again post an operating profit and that the company was strong enough to operate on its own.

“We are absolutely on the right path,” he said, adding that this was good news for employees and for the city of Dortmund.

After operating losses this year of between EUR four and six million euros, Brau & Brunnen expects to operate in the black in 2004 with results of more than EUR25 million, Hollmann said. Shareholders would be paid a dividend again in 2005.

Subject: German news