Profits up for S&N buyers; deal timeline set

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chief executive officer, Cent, Executive officer, Carlsberg

The acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) by rivals
Heineken and Carlsberg is expected during the second fiscal quarter
2008, it has been revealed, as all three parties this week
announced organic profit gains over the full year 2007.

After months of wrangling between S&N and a consortium formed between its two rivals, talks were finally opened on a proposed deal last month, with the deal now expected to be finalized possibly within weeks. With all three companies involved in the deal posting profit improvement over the respective twelve-month periods, the potential split-up of S&N between them highlights the magnitude to the acquisition for global brewing. Heineken ​The company said that full year revenues were up 7.3 per cent on organic terms to €12.5bn, helped by a 4.7 per cent increase in sales volumes for the period. Operating income rose by 20 per cent to €1.8bn on organic terms for the twelve-month period ending 31 December, with margins up 1.4 percentage points to 14.6 per cent over the period. The figures did not take into account a €219m fine imposed by the EU last April for breaching the bloc's competition laws by allegedly forming a beer cartel with some of its rivals. Jean-François van Boxmeer, chief executive officer for Heineken said that overall, 2007 had been an encouraging year for the group. "We delivered €191m of annual gross cost savings as promised; we achieved this with a leaner organisation and a more accountable decision making culture,"​ he stated. "Through our anticipated acquisition of Scottish andNewcastle, we will strengthen our global position, reinforce our European leadership and acquire strong platforms for further profitable growth." ​ For the year, the brewer said that sales volumes of its flagship Heineken brand in the global premium beer segment increased ten per cent to 24.7m hectolitres granting the company unspecified improvements in global market share for the product. S&N ​Ahead of a potential sale of its operations, UK-Based S&N said it had posted a 7.9 per cent organic improvement in sales over the twelve-month period ending 31 December, amounting to £4.1bn (€5.4bn). On organic terms, operating profit rose by 5.7 per cent to £560m (€743m), the group said. Operating margins were down by 0.3 percentage points to 13.4 on the same terms. The company said the performance over the period had been driven by the improving performances of its core Western European operations and strong growth in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe. Group chief executive John Dunsmore said that the performance over the period, despite difficulties in markets like the UK, was justification of the £7.8bn (€10.3bn) price tag it had put on its operations. "In the face of substantial challenges in terms of unprecedented bad summer weather, the UK smoking ban and the distraction of the consortium approach, it is very encouraging that S&N's outstanding portfolio of brands and leading market positions has still delivered [growth]."​ he stated. Carlsberg ​ The Denmark-based brewer announced yesterday that full year sales had risen by nine per cent to DKK44.8bn (€6bn). Operating profit for the twelve-month period ending 31 December reached DKK5.2bn (€697m), an increase of 25 per cent over the same period last year, the group said. Operating margins were also up as the result for the year, increasing by 1.9 percentage points to 11.7 per cent. Group chief executive officer, Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen claimed that the improved sales and profits during 2007 put the company in a strong position to deal with the financial challenges ahead. "The marked increases in raw material prices will make 2008 a challenging year, so it will be more important than ever to focus on value growth in sales and efficiency in the organisation,"​ he stated. "The results for 2007 demonstrate once again that we are well equipped both to face challenges and for the next major transformation of Carlsberg,"​ The company said that its core Western European operations had experienced an overall slowdown during the period, as poor summer weather hit sales in markets like the UK, Germany and Denmark, the company said. Carlsberg claimed that these difficulties were offset by continued sales growth in many Eastern European markets. In keeping with the growing trend for premium beer, the company's leading brands including Calrsberg and Tuborg recorded sales volumes increases of five and 18 per cent respectively. It was the brewer's namesake beer in particular that posted strong revenues increases in the UK, Poland and Russia.

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