Budvar Not for Sale

Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar, which continues to battle U.S. giant Anheuser-Busch for the rights to use the name Budweiser in countries around the world, will remain in state hands until at least 2006, Czech media reported Monday.

Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, in charge of the central European country’s privatization program, was quoted as saying the sale of the fully state-owned brewer was out of the question during this cabinet’s term, which expires in June 2006.

In June, Sobotka hinted the sale of profitable Budvar might be possible as part of the government’s campaign to raise money for badly-needed infrastructure investment.

“So far, (our) analyses do not speak in favor of Budvar’s privatization in the nearest future,” Czech Radio quoted Sobotka as saying.

Budvar’s value is estimated at around about $110 million but the rights to the Budweiser brand, which the Czech brewer can exclusively use in many countries, is thought to be worth 10 times that amount. In most countries, only one brewery or the other is allowed to use the name Budweiser. In the United States, for instance, Budvar is sold as Czechvar.

Reports indicate that Anheuser-Busch would try to buy Budvar to end the ongoing litigation with its Czech rival over who can sell beer as Budweiser.

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