Carlsberg Ups Stake in Chinese Brewer

Chongqing produces local beer in central China.

Danish brewer Carlsberg said Thursday it outbid two rivals to pay 2.1 billion kroner (US$340 million) to increase its holding in Chinese Chongqing Brewery to 29.7%.

Carlsberg, the world's fourth largest brewer, "was competing with two other players for this acquisition worth 2.1 billion kroner," company spokesman Jens Bekke told AFP.

The deal to purchase an additional 12.25% of Chongqing shares was signed Wednesday and "is subject to approvals by competition authorities," he said, adding that the company did not expect there to be any obstacles. He did not say who the other bidders were.

The Danish brewer acquired 17.46% of Chongqing when it and Heineken of the Netherlands bought Scottish & Newcastle PLC in 2008.

The Chinese brewery, which produces local beer in central China, accounts for 80% of the market in the region of more than 30 million inhabitants.

Faced with stagnating beer consumption in western Europe, its largest market, Calrsberg "aims to expand [business] in Russia and Asia in the years to come," Bekke said.

Today, around 10% of the Danish brewer's sales are in Asia, especially in China, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Carlsberg is eager "to increase its holdings in Chongqing if a new occasion arises," Bekke said, pointing out that "China will be a booming market for the next five to 10 years.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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