S&N Deal May be Near

After three months of battles, Scottish & Newcastle has agreed to enter discussions that would result in Carlsberg and Heineken taking over the UK brewing giant.

S&N agreed to open its books after the pair increased their bid for the third time, ending a three-month takeover stand-off.

The group’s chairman, Sir Brian Stewart, had fiercely held out against the Dutch and Danish suitors, but sources said the two sides entered talks this week.

Sources close to S&N last night insisted that the group’s decision to open its books for due diligence was only the “start of the negotiations”, while people close to the bidders described it as a “done deal” pending the outcome of the due diligence.

Heineken and Carlsberg first approached S&N in October. S&N owns the Newcastle Brown, Kronenbourg and Strongbow brands, but the center of interest is Baltic Beverages Holding, the fast-growing Russian and Baltic brewer that S&N jointly controls with Carlsberg on a 50-50 basis.

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