Yesterday, Reuters cited anonymous sources saying that $25bn turnover brewer Heineken and advisor JP Morgan had sent information to potential bidders asking for bids by late April.
The newswire said its sources told it that Heineken could sell Hartwall – which has a license to sell PepsiCo brands 7UP, Mountain Dew and Pepsi in Finland – for around €500m (around $650m) and added that interest was likely to come from private equity firms.
Private equity interest?
Further sources suggested Nordic Capital (current holdings include food service distributor Menigo and confectionery producer Cloetta) could be interested, as well as peer EQT, which also has holdings in food firms.
But Heineken spokesman John Clarke told BeverageDaily.com this morning: “Reuters called me yesterday on this, and I was quite clear to them that we are not commenting over and above what we have already said on this one.
“This is that we are undertaking a strategic review, and when it is completed we will make a public statement. I am not aware who the unnamed [Reuters] sources were, but can confirm it was not us,” Clarke added.
CEO hints at non-beer divestitures
Heineken acquired Hartwall when it took over UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle in 2008, in a £7.8bn joint bid with Carlsberg that led to a subsequent asset split.
Hartwall employs around 850 staff and strong market positions in beer, ciders, waters, long drinks and carbonates. The firm made headlines in March when we broke the news that it was launching the EU’s first stevia-sweetened alcoholic drink.
The company has licensing agreement with PepsiCo to manufacture and sell its brands (7UP, Mountain Dew, Pepsi) in Finland. Local beer brands include Lapin Kulta, Sininen and Karjala.
During a February investor call, Heineken’s CEO hinted to Nomura analyst Ian Shackleton – following a question referencing the Hartwall review – that the brewer was assessing the worth of assets not wholly focused on beer, alongside the strategic worth of a market.
“In Europe, where the market is highly competitive, we are reviewing these kind of positions in that light” Jean-François van Boxmeer said.