The management of the brewery Pivovar Černá Hora has cut off the company’s 50% shareholder K Brewery from a chance to participate in its operation.
“I have forbidden them to enter. I manage the brewery and do not want them to interfere in it,” said director Jiří Fusek, the holder of the remaining 50% of shares and the president of the Czech Association of Small Independent Breweries.
Fusek has not yet given the reason for his negative stance to the K Brewery. He and his family members hold three posts in the five-seat board of directors, so K Brewery cannot do anything.
K Brewery is still hesitating over what stance to take. Board chairman Zdeněk Radil and other K Brewery representatives did not comment on the situation despite repeated appeals to do so. If they do not want to remain passive shareholders, the only possibility for them is to sell their stake.
However, Fusek, who has a pre-emptive right to the shares, said that nobody has talked to him about such a scenario.
Černá Hora is the first brewery that financiers Martin Burda and Grzegorz Hóta, the owners of a majority stake in K Brewery, invested in. In May 2007, they bought first shares from then co-owner Zdeňka Schmidtová.
Fusek had no resources at that time. In the beginning, he praised – at least in public – his partners’ plans. But Hóta and Burda would like to have the whole brewery that Fusek brought to life again in the post-revolution period.
“A matter of the heart”
“The owners of the K Brewery group are financiers whose aim is to achieve results. But for Mr. Fusek, the brewery is a matter of the heart,” said a Czech beer industry expert who did not wish to be named.
Fusek’s family manages the brewery with a firm hand and, as he himself says, they appreciate the assets for K Brewery.
He refused to speculate about a possibility of him selling his stake. Under his leadership, Pivovar Černá Hora has invested heavily – this year the sum has reached CZK 150 million. In 2008, the brewery produced 162,000 hectolitres of beer, made a CZK 7 million profit and raised sales by 6% to CZK 260 million.
Vain efforts to rule
Some time ago, K Brewery failed to take control of the breweries in Svijany and Rohozec, where it holds minority stakes.
In the end, K Brewery agreed on cooperation with the majority shareholder, the Czech company LIF that manages both breweries at present. Earlier this year, LIF extended its activities to include the brewery Pivovar Náchod.
Individual breweries in the group K Brewery acted as independent entities still last year. It enabled those with output lower than 200,000 hectolitres to use the advantages of small breweries, which concerned in particular a lower consumption tax. That saved a total of roughly CZK 20 million, according to information that HN has at its disposal.
As of this year, K Brewery sums up the production of breweries that it fully controls (without Černá Hora) and does not apply the lower tax.
According to Otakar Binder, who is in charge of operation of individual breweries in the group, it means a bigger pressure on cost cuts.
“We are centralizing the purchase of inputs and some other activities. At the same time, we reinforce the role of breweries in individual regions,” Binder said.