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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 10:41 GMT
Carling sold to US brewer
Selection of beers
Carling has one fifth of the UK's beer market
Carling, the UK's best selling beer with sales of more than 1 billion pints a year, is to fall under US control.

US-based Adolph Coors has bought Carling Brewers from Belgium's Interbrew for $1.7bn (1.18bn).

The deal allows Interbrew, which owns brands including Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, to satisfy regulators concerned over the brewers' hold on the UK beer market.

And it will give Colorado-based Coors, whose brands are chiefly known within the US, a place on the brewery sector's international stage.

Coors, while the third largest US brewer, currently has no operations in the UK, raising hopes that the deal will not lead to job losses, and leaving the purchase unlikely to attract regulatory concerns.

Coors fought off competition from Dutch-based Heineken to secure the purchase of Carling, which has topped the UK beer sales league for 30 years, and in August claimed to be the first brand to sell more than 4 million barrels in a year in Britain.

Watchdog fears

Interbrew acquired Carling last year as one of the units acquired with the purchase of Bass's brewery interests.

But UK regulators, concerned over Interbrew's hold on the UK beer market, ordered brand disposals to weaken the grip.

Besides Bass brands such as Caffrey's and Tennents, Interbrew had already bought Whitbread's beers portfolio.

Following an investigation by the Competition Commission, and a legal challenge by Interbrew, UK Trade & Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt gave Interbrew until the end of February to sell either the complete Bass Brewers business, or the Carling Brewers unit.

The sale of Carling Brewers leaves Interbrew with an estimated 16% of the UK's beer market.

Bass, since selling off its beer interests, has transformed itself into a hotels firm, and been renamed Six Continents.

On the stock markets, Interbrew shares were flat at 29.15 euros in morning trade.

See also:

05 Sep 01 | Business
Bass Interbrew decision expected
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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