Dutch brewer Heineken signed an agreement Monday to purchase a majority stake in Pivovarna Laško for EUR 25.56 per share in a deal that values the entire company at about EUR 224m.

Heineken will pay EUR 114.3m for the 51.1% stake pending approval by the anti-trust authorities (Photo: Heineken)Heineken will pay EUR 114.3m for the 51.1% stake pending approval by the anti-trust authorities (Photo: Heineken)

Heineken will pay EUR 114.3m for the 51.1% stake pending approval by the anti-trust authorities, Heineken and Laško officials said.

Under Slovenian law, Heineken has to publish a takeover bid for the outstanding Laško stock offering the same price to all shareholders.

If the acquisition is cleared, Heineken plans to publish a takeover bid for the outstanding stock, Marc Koster, executive director for global business development at Heineken, told the press in Ljubljana.

Heineken plans to preserve both key brands, Laško and Union. It will bring in new know-how and help the company grow on the domestic and foreign markets, he said.

While the production facilities in Ljubljana and Laško will remain operational for now, Koster did not rule out closures in the future.

Heineken does not expect problems regarding Laško’s debt. Laško “will have our support, it will be a part of us,” he said.

Laško CEO Dušan Zorko said Heineken had agreed a debt restructuring deal with banks through 2016.

He said the acquisition would allow Laško to return to its brewing roots. “Heineken is a brewer by soul and it can give us back what we have missed.”

Zorko remains at the helm of the company for now but said it will be up to Heineken to decide if he stays on in the future.

While initial reports suggested Heineken had also offered a capital injection, Zorko said fresh capital was “not needed for now”.

The deal ends Laško’s agony, years of teetering on the brink of collapse due to a spectacularly failed management buyout.

Heineken outbid three private equity firms with a price that media reports suggest is substantially higher than other bids.

The Association Small Shareholders welcomed the deal. “We’re pleased with the price given that it is above market price,” Rajko Stankovič told the STA.

Asset management firm Alpen Invest, which sold its 4.1% stake in Laško, said the price was good. The procedure was managed “efficiently and transparently” and can serve as a role model for similar sales procedures.

Heineken, the world’s third largest beer group, posted sales of EUR 21.2bn last year and a net profit of EUR 1.5bn.

It has a strong brand portfolio stretching the entire globe, including 50 breweries across Central and Eastern Europe.

Commenting on the proposed transaction, Heineken CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said the acquisition “strengthens our position within the region and will bring two complementary strong local brands into our existing portfolio”.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming Pivovarna Laško as a successful member of our group,” he was quoted as saying in a Heineken press release.

Tags: Pivovarna Laško, Heineken, Marc Koster, Dušan Zorko