Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Heineken’s Czech Takeover OKed

The news yesterday was that Czech regulators have given a big green light to Heineken’s takeover of the four Drinks Union breweries (Zlatopramen, Louny, Velké Březno and Kutná Hora). According to Reuters, the Czech anti-monopoly office has no problem whatsoever with the deal.

There’s a great quote at the end of the story: “The office came to the conclusion that the merger will not result into a substantial breach of competition given a relatively low market share of both competitors and the existence of significant competitors.”

In other words, “Since SABMiller already has 49% of the market, what difference does it make?”

Perhaps not much, at least for now. And some have said that Heineken helped, rather than hurt, Starobrno in its takeover there. (I noticed better logos and a redecorated brewery taproom.) But Ron Pattinson noted that Heineken is unlikely to aim for a small share of any market it enters, predicting that the Dutch would shoot for something closer to 30 or 40%.

There are only a few ways to get there from here, and all of them involve buying whole groups of Czech breweries. I know of one great small brewery in sale negotiations at the moment, but that by itself wouldn’t get Heineken even another 2% of the market.

Think K Brewery Group, with its shares in Platan, Svijany, Černá Hora and Rohozec, and which is listed in the commercial register as a real-estate agency. Or PMS Přerov, whose three breweries (Litovel, Zubr and Holba) together brew about 900,000 hectoliters annually, giving the group around 5% of the domestic market.

In any case, more takeovers are coming. If the anti-monopoly office doesn’t have a problem with them now, will they possibly take a stand against them later?

And where is our CAMRA in all this? Where oh where is our Danske Ølentusiaster?


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  1. Interesting point about SABMiller’s dominance. Our Competition Authority are currently investigating something similar, surrounding Heineken’s grab for Beamish & Crawford. With Diageo shifting more beer than the two put together, will it make a difference?

    I hope they think it does, since Heineken is already the second-largest player here.

  2. Greetings, Beer Nut. It’ll be interesting to watch how things shake out in Ireland. I doubt if the Czech anti-monopoly office will take a stand against a merger until there are just two or three major breweries left. One hears very little anti-merger sentiment in general here.

    On that note, does Ireland have a working beer consumers’ organization like CAMRA?

  3. In a country where drinkers genuinely believe that Guinness is the greatest beer in the world? Are you kidding?

    The nearest we have is the beer geeks’ collective online grumblings over at Irish Craft Brewer. We may be close to having the momentum to set up a proper organisation, but I don’t think any of us quite know how or where to start.

  4. “And where is our CAMRA in all this? Where oh where is our Danske Ølentusiaster?”
    Well, they seem happy organising nohejball tournaments.

    But to be fair, CAMRA wasn’t able to do much against when earlier this year Heineken and Carlsberg took over Scottish & Newcastle, other than shake their fists in the air, that is. But at lest they’ve done that. SPP hasn’t mentioned anything on their website.

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