Granada develops a taste for Bass

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The Independent Online

Granada, which has admitted that it is planning to make a large acquisition in the near future, has turned its attentions to Bass, excited by the group's plans to sell its brewing interest leaving just pubs and hotels.

Granada, which has admitted that it is planning to make a large acquisition in the near future, has turned its attentions to Bass, excited by the group's plans to sell its brewing interest leaving just pubs and hotels.

Gerry Robinson's hotels, catering and media group has been scouring the continent for a catering purchase but has been put off by high prices and the reluctance of continental companies to enter into a deal.

However, sources close to Granada now say that it has decided to refocus its attention in the UK and Bass is at the top of its list. A 30 per cent fall in Bass's share price in the last year has left the group, which owns the Intercontinental and Crest hotel chains as well as the All Bar One pub network, valued at less than £7bn.

Bass surprised many when it said it would be selling its brewing operation, whose branding includes Caffreys, Tenants and Carling Black Label. Heineken and South African Breweries have expressed an interest in buying the business, which is valued at more than £1.8bn.

Selling the brewing operation would suit Granada, which was concerned that it would itself have to sell the brewing side if it bought Bass.

Mr Robinson has admitted he wants to strike a "transforming deal" for Granada before he retires as chairman. The group has expressed an interest in buying either Carlton Communications or United News & Media, the two ITV companies which have said they want to merge. However, the deals have been referred to the Competition Commission which will not rule before June, and even then is unlikely to give a clear indication of how ITV should be shaken up.

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