Scottish & Newcastle arm sold to Danes

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PART of the old Scottish & Newcastle drinks empire changed hands yesterday when Heineken sold Hartwall, Finland’s second-largest brewer, to Denmark’s Royal Unibrew for £319 million.

Finnish pair Erik Hartwall and Henrik Therman sold their Oyj Hartwall App brewing outfit to S&N in 2002 and then pocketed more than £72m between them when the Edinburgh-based firm was broken up by Danish giant Carlsberg and Dutch rival Heineken in 2008.

While much of S&N’s international business passed to Carlsberg, Heineken took control of Hartwall because Carlsberg already had a large presence in the Finnish and broader Baltic markets.

Royal Unibrew – which controls more than 80 per cent of the British malt drinks market through its Supermalt brand – has also extended its licensing agreements with Heineken.

The firm was already brewing Heineken in Denmark and distributing the brand in the Baltic, as well as handling labels including Newcastle Brown Ale, Sol and Strongbow in Finland.

Under the latest deal, Royal Unibrew will also make Heineken for sale in Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Royal Unibrew said its dividends and share buy-back scheme will be put on hold until 2015 to help fund the deal, which also involves bank debt.

Analysts at Nordea questioned the price the Danish firm was paying for Hartwall, saying: “We see this acquisition as a big mouthful for Unibrew.”.

Alm Brand analyst Michael Jorgensen added: “They will not reach a size to be able to obtain purchase synergies.”