CARLSBERG BREWERIES ACQUIRES 67% STAKE IN PIRINSKO PIVO
Carlsberg Breweries A/S has entered an agreement to acquire 67 per cent of the Bulgarian brewery Pirinsko Pivo, the Danish company's website informs.End of June this year, Carlsberg Breweries acquired 59% of the local brewery Shumensko Pivo, and the acquisition was approved by the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) July 25, 2002. The acquisition of the majority shareholding in Pirinsko Pivo is a natural step for Carlsberg Breweries wishing to further strengthen its position in Bulgaria. The deal will be effected on the floor of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange because a few weeks ago Pirinsko Pivo was registered as a public company at the State Securities Exchange Commission (SSEC). The shares of the Blagoevgrad-based brewery will be probably sold after the projected acquisition is approved by the CPC. The more curious thing in this operation (in addition to the fact that Carlsberg is among the few strategic investors that have ventured to invest in Bulgaria) is that the Danish company's legal interests in Bulgaria will be defended by the law firm Jingov, Guginski, Kyuchukov and Velichkov which has been much talked about recently. The law firm is owned by Tobacco Capital Partners - the temporary leader in the already notorius bidding for a 80-percent stake in Bulgartabac Holding. Despite the drama regarding Bulgartabac's privatisation, the legal consultants managed to settle juristically Carlsberg's stay in Bulgaria. Pirinsko Pivo is a public company and after a majority package in it is transferred to Carlsberg Breweries, the latter is obliged under Bulgarian law to make a public offer for the remaining share capital. The selling price of the 67-percent stake in the local brewery is for the time being kept in secret, but it will certainly be not less than the accounting value of its assets, which totaled BGN5,777,000 by June 30, 2002. Having in mind that breweries in Bulgaria are currently making significant profits, the success fee for the agreed price above that amount is expected to be a tidy sum. The more so as Pirinsko Pivo's 2002 first half profit was almost BGN2MN and sales revenues stood at BGN10,335,000. Guesses are already being made about the price of the tender offer as well. Investors predict that it won't drop below BGN4-5 per share (the brewery's current quotations on the stock exchange).Following completion of the deal on Pirinsko Pivo, Carlsberg will evaluate the possibilities of integrating the two Bulgarian breweries, purchased by it.Pirinsko Pivo brewery (situated in Blagoevgrad, 100 km south of the capital city Sofia) holds 12.16% of the Bulgarian beer market, and together with Shumensko Pivo (located in Shoumen) their share becomes 20 per cent. Pirinsko Pivo is run by managers of Zlaten Lev Holding, but only 25.5% of the brewery's shares are owned by it and will remain in its hands after Carlsberg enters the enterprise. After several capital raises, about 70% of the Bulgarian brewery were acquired by three offshore companies - Bacchus Resources, registered in Delaware, USA (18.3%) and the Cypriot Bristow Holding Limited (18.3%) and Traversa Limited (33.6%). Therefore, they will be probably the sellers.