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Carlsberg buys into Germany

Jan 29, 2004 - Danish brewery giant Carlsberg has launched a billion-euro bid for Holsten, Germany's second largest brewer. If successful, Carlsberg will become the third major foreign group to take a major stake in Germany. The Danish giant would become the fifth-biggest brewer in Germany and the leading brewery in northern Germany, it said.

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Dutch group Heineken and Belgian giant Interbrew have also expanded in Germany. Carlsberg Breweries said Tuesday that in order to get the deal past the competition authorities, Holsten would sell its key Koenig-Brauerei and Licher Privatbrauerei breweries to rival German group Bitburger.

Carlsberg's move into Germany marks the next big step in the ongoing consolidation of the highly fragmented German market, until recently dominated by small family owned breweries.

In recent years, Heineken set up a joint venture with the Paulaner and Kulmbacher breweries, and Interbrew has picked up several brands. Included are Beck's Hasseroeder, Diebels Alt and those Munich-based Spaten-Franziskaner-Braeu, which owns Spaten, Franziskaner Weissbier, Loewenbraeu and Dinkelacker brands. Interbrew is now Germany's biggest brewer.

Holsten, set up in 1879, announced last July that it was on the lookout for a new investor since Eisenbeiss was looking to sell his stake. Plans by Anheuser-Busch to buy the German company did not come to fruition.

The German beer market is expected to consolidate further. Dortmund-based Brau und Brunnen is on the lookout for an investor, since its major shareholder, Munich-based bank HypoVereinsbank has said it is looking to sell its stake.


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