LONDON – Scottish brewer Belhaven is all set to be acquired by Suffolk-based Greene King in a deal worth £187 million (€275.5 million). Dunbar-based Belhaven has recommended that its shareholders accept the offer.
However, the deal was concluded in the looming shadow of the smoking ban that is to come into effect in Scotland early next year. In fact the company released a statement acknowledging that it was aware of the ban, “Greene King has concluded that the Scottish smoking ban due in 2006 may result in a significant reduction in Belhaven’s short-term profitability.” This deal will now add 300 Belhaven pubs to Greene King’s existing ones taking the total up to 2,334. This number means that Greene King is now Britain’s third-biggest pub owner.
The 625 pence-per-share agreement also allows Belhaven to retain its brand name as well as East Lothian brewery. “It is a unique opportunity for us to gain immediate scale in the important Scottish market,” said Rooney Anand, Greene King Chief Executive. “Belhaven will retain everything at the heart of its success, including its name, its brands, and its brewery, but will also benefit from being part of a larger group opening up new markets for its products,” he added.
Founded in 1719 by John Johnstone at Dunbar, Belhaven was the oldest independent brewery in Scotland. The company makes Belhaven Best, St Andrew’s Ale and Belhaven 80 Shilling and distributes Tennent’s and Stella Artois. Commenting on the cash offer from Greene King, Belhaven chief executive Stuart Ross said, “Today’s cash offer reflects the quality of our business and our board unanimously recommends that it is in the best interests of our shareholders.
In Scotland, we can look forward positively to the future and we are confident that our assets, including our people, will make a meaningful contribution to the future growth and prosperity of the enlarged group.”