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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Bass Interbrew decision expected
Man and woman drinking Bass Ale
The long-awaited decision on Interbrew's appeal against an order to sell Britain's biggest brewer Bass is expected this month.

Interbrew chief executive Hugo Powell says he expects trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt to make a ruling within weeks.

Hoegarden Leffe
Interbrew has grown beyond its Belgian brands.

"We hope that it will be coming in the month of September," Mr Powell said.

Ms Hewitt is expected to either order Interbrew to sell Bass Brewers outright, to break up the brewer and sell parts of it together with some other beer brands, or to keep Bass and sell some other major brands.

Industry sources say Ms Hewitt favours a break-up of Bass.

The initial order to sell Bass was issued within months of Interbrew's acquisition of the UK brewer in August last year, due to competition concerns over its dominant position in the UK market.

But the Belgian brewer appealed to the High Court which asked the UK government to reconsider.

Rising profits

Interbrew, whose two flagship brands Stella Artois and its recently acquired Becks compete head-on, on Wednesday reported a 63.9% rise in net profits for the first half of this year to 200m euros (123m, $178m).

The increase, which includes profits from Bass, came following a 68.5% rise in revenues to 3.48bn euros.

Excluding Bass sales brings the revenue rise down to 34.8%.

Shares in the group rose 0.55% in early trading on Euronext in Brussels to 27.40 euros.

Interbrew also owns the Whitbread Brewing Company in the UK, as well as several Belgium beers, including Hoegarden and Leffe.

See also:

04 Jul 01 | Business
Interbrew given Bass options
08 Jun 01 | Business
UK's new trade and industry minister
03 Jul 01 | Business
Scottish & Newcastle hit by charges
31 May 01 | Business
SAB eyes Bass Brewers
03 Dec 00 | Business
Byers 'to force Carling sale'
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