Bass faces Czech brewing battle

Bass, the drinks giant which is keen to expand overseas, having had its bid for Carlsberg-Tetley blocked by Margaret Beckett in the UK, now faces a bitter battle with the Japanese bank Nomura in its attempt to grow its Czechoslovakia brewing business.

Bass bought its first Czech brewer four years ago and is now trying to take control of Radegast, the second biggest brewer in the country. Bass has built up a 33.4 per cent stake in the company, but yesterday a Czech bank sold its stake to a financial company controlled by Nomura.

Investioni a Postroni Banka (IPB) and its partner Pruni Investioni have sold their combined 15.5 per cent stake in Radegast to IMP Finance, which is controlled by Nomura.

It emerged a month ago that IMP Finance wants to merge Radegast with the largest brewery in the country, Plzenske Brazdroj. Bass has not been informed of the deal. Combined market share of the merged company would total 41 per cent. Bass last week filed a lawsuit against IPB over alleged breaches of nine areas of the Czech commercial code.