Unilever sells stake in Swedish venture

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UNILEVER, the Anglo-Dutch food group, is reducing its interest in the Swedish beer and soft drinks markets.

The company is selling its 55 per cent share in the Falcon AB beer and soft drinks joint venture to Nordic Capital Svenska AB.

Financial details are not being disclosed. Falcon's annual sales are about pounds 110m.

One quarter of Falcon's turnover is in soft drinks and the remainder is beer marketed under the Falcon and Falcon Bayer brand names.

'Expansion in this sector of industry is not a priority for Unilever's foods businesses in Sweden,' a spokesman said.

Unilever's food and brands include Birds Eye, Flora, PG Tips, and John West.

The Unilever stake in Falcon dates from 1985 and the investment was originally aimed at strengthening its limited soft drinks activities in the Swedish market. 'In nearly 10 years, marketing, sales and distribution at Falcon has grown fast and been prosperous,' added Unilever.

Despite the disposal, Unilever will continue to hold an indirect stake in Falcon. It has a 9.9 per cent share stake in Bryggeri AB Falken, the beer and drinks group that is the other joint-venture partner in Falcon.

'The new ownership structure in the joint venture is also aimed at integrating Falcon's sales organisation with the production of Bryggeri, thus creating a stronger position in the market,' Unilever added.

Shares in Unilever, which is due to report results for 1993 next month, improved by 10p to pounds 11.75.