Allied names Goldman Sachs on Carlsberg sale

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The Independent Online
Allied Domecq has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on selling its half- share in Carlsberg Tetley, the UK's third-largest brewing group. The move is the latest in the consolidation of the brewing industry, following the pounds 425m takeover of Courage by Scottish & Newcastle.

Whitbread, the fourth biggest, and Bass, which was displaced from top spot in the industry by the Courage takeover, are favourites to buy Allied out of Carlsberg Tetley.

Brewing is now at odds with Allied's strategy, which is focused on wines, spirits and retailing through pubs, Victoria Wine off-licences, Baskin Robbins ice cream parlours, and Dunkin Donuts.

Industry sources said Allied was moving fast to try and exit the brewing venture, which has failed to live up to expectations since the deal with the Danish Carlsberg group was consummated three years ago. On 12 December, Allied loses its casting vote on the board, comprising an equal number of representatives from Carlsberg and Allied. Carlsberg will be given the option to take up the casting vote, which it could use to hamper attempts by Allied to sell out to another brewer.

The brewing venture is far more important to Carlsberg than Allied, with more than a third of the Danish group's profits coming from the UK. Carlsberg, the fourth-biggest brewer in Europe and eighth- largest in the world, has the resources to buy out its partner's half-share, but the move would be pointless unless it could secure an agreement to supply beer to Allied's 4,300 pubs.

Analysts believe Allied would drive a hard bargain on any supply agreement simply because it would be able to source beer easily, and cheaply, from an industry that can produce more pints than it can possibly sell.

Carlsberg Tetley itself is over-endowed with production capacity, operating out of six brewery sites in Northampton, Wrexham, Warrington, Burton, Leeds and Alloa in Scotland. One brewing analyst said one, possibly two, breweries would have to be closed before Allied could consider marketing its share in Carlsberg Tetley.

A source close to Carlsberg said that the Danes, who entered the UK market in 1868, "would fight at all costs" to stop Bass from coming on board. One of the biggest concerns is a clash of two top-selling, high strength lager brands, Bass's Tennent's Super and Carlsberg Special Brew. Whitbread, which tried to buy Courage, is understood to be ready to make a bid to buy Allied out of the venture.

Allied declined to comment about the appointment of advisers from Goldman. A spokesman for Goldman said: "We never comment on a client assignment."