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Russia ups bid for Primátor brewery

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Nervousness surrounding the sale of one of two last remaining city breweries in the Czech Republic is mounting. A week before Náchod city representatives vote on who should get what share in the successful Primátor brewery, prospective buyers are one-upping one another with their bids and diverse strategies.

The company Russian Tradition Group is a hot candidate. It initially offered CZK 165 million for the entire brewery and smaller sums for smaller stakes in the brewery. Now the company is offering CZK 165 million as a premium for buying the entire package of Primátor shares. It also has two other possible strategies: splitting the shares with LIF (liberecký fond), one of the other companies vying for the shares, or co-owning the brewery with the city of Náchod.

The Russian company, which has been exporting Krušovice beer as well beer produced by several other breweries from the Czech Republic to Russia for several years, is also offering, according to information available to HN, to sell LIF a 49% stake or possibly even a 65% stake. The third option is to sell a 30% stake to Náchod and the remaining 70% would be split evenly between Russian Tradition Group and LIF.

“I am surprised that the Russian investor is constantly changing the offer. I would prefer an even split with the city,” said Náchod Mayor Oldřich Čtvrtečka.

LIF is also modifying its offer, which it was to present to the city Tuesday. “We would like to have a majority stake, so more negotiations are in order,” Miroslav Kučera, LIF chairman of the board of directors, told HN.

Speculations are also emerging that the new owner or owners could start exporting Primátor to Russia. “We are not against it, but it depends on the price,” said Kučera.

LIF is not a newcomer to the beer market. It owns a majority stake in Svijany brewery and controls beer production at Malý Rohozec brewery.

The third company vying for Primátor is the Slovak brewery Stein Beverages, which, it seems, doesn’t stand much of a chance due to unexplained details about its licence and property ownership. Its previous owner, the developer Orco, sold the licence for beer production but retained the brewery’s Bratislava property.

The competition over Primátor began this spring, when Náchod city hall wanted to strike a deal with LIF. Other investors were invited into the competition only after protests from city representatives. But city councilors have halted the selection process twice already. The final decision should be made this October. If not, the town mayor is threatening to halt the sale.

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