Heineken, Carlsberg raise bid for S&N

Heineken and Carlsberg improved their bid to buy rival UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle to more than £7bn on Thursday morning.

Their new offer represents an increase of 30 pence per share, valuing Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) at £7.3bn.

The move puts the ball back in S&N’s court in what has developed into a tense stand-off between the UK brewer and its would-be suitors.

Heineken’s chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, said the improved bid “represents a very attractive opportunity for S&N shareholders to obtain a price which is materially higher than the standalone value of the group”.

S&N’s board is unlikely to back down immediately, however. It has filed for arbitration proceedings against Carlsberg, accusing the group of breaking conditions in the two brewers’ successful joint venture in Eastern Europe, Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH).

Under the terms of the bid, Heineken would take S&N’s business in the UK, including John Smiths, Kronenbourg 1664 and Foster’s brands. Carlsberg would take the BBH venture and S&N’s operations in France.

S&N is due to release a trading statement next week, which is expected to echo reports from other brewers of a tough summer for beer in the UK. The group referred to “challenging conditions” in Western Europe in a release last week.

Another brewer, SABMiller, is understood to have been considering intervening in the takeover battle. The brewer reiterated its desire to increase presence in emerging beer markets, like Eastern Europe, in its first half results on Thursday morning. But it made no reference to S&N.