Dutch brewer Heineken has confirmed it is eyeing up the acquisition of a 45% stake in Pivovarna Laško, Slovenia's biggest brewery.
In a statement to local news agency Sta, Heineken said it has "a long tradition of acquiring strong local brands and further developing them". The brewer underlined that it is already present in the region where it owns Pivara Skopje (Macedonia), Pivara MB (Serbia), Brau Union (Austria), Krušovice and Drinks Union (Czech Republic) and Zywiec (Poland). According to Heineken, the Laško and Union brands represented "an excellent opportunity", while the brewer's facilities allowed it to bring "its other beer brands into operation".
The statement comes amidst media reports that Heineken is the only major brewery bidding, with other giants such as Carslberg already dropping out.
According to daily newspaper Delo, investment funds KKR, Bain Capital, CVC Capital and Mid Europa Partners have already been invited to submit binding bids.
The deadline for binding offers has not been revealed. According to some reports the deadline expires on March 19, while other sources have mentioned the end of March.
A group of mostly state-owned shareholders announced in December that they are selling a combined 44.68% stake in Laško, for which they are requiring a capital contribution of at least €75 million. According to the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Pivovarna Laško, Goran Branković, the main criterion when choosing a strategic investor will be the benefit of shareholders and the company.
Laško has been streamlining in recent years and it sold off its juice subsidiary Fructal and mineral water producer Radenska. The group now includes the Laško and Union breweries, soft drinks maker Vital Mestinje, and newspaper publisher Delo.
© 2015 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article written by Branislav Pekic