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Heineken N.V./Paulaner venture approved.

AP--Heineken NV had its entry into the German beer market cleared by European Union regulators Thursday when they approved the Dutch brewing giant's acquisition of a 49.9 percent stake in a venture with the makers of Munich's trademark Paulaner Weiss. "Activities of the parties show no or only minimal overlaps," the European Commission regulators said in a statement.

Heineken, one of the world's largest brewers, announced the deal in February, saying Paulaner Weiss, which sold around 100 million liters (26 million gallons) in 2000, will strengthen its range of international specialty beers, which also includes Amstel and Murphy's Stout.

The deal with Germany's Bayerische BrauHolding AG will create Brau Holding International AG, a beer production and distribution joint venture that will be 49.9 percent owned by Heineken.

Heineken plans to market the beer through its vast global sales and distribution network.

At the same time, the new deal gives Heineken better channels to market its namesake beer in Germany, Europe's largest beer market, where it has a limited presence.

Heineken's brands are sold in 170 countries, and the company controls about 13 percent of the European beer market. But it has been reluctant to venture into Germany which is dominated by small regional brewers.

The EC said the deal created some overlap in the Italian market, but even there, "in view of the competitive situation on that market ... the combined position does not pose concerns."

Bayerische BrauHolding is a unit of Schoerghuber Corporate Group. As well as Paulaner, its main brand is Kulmbacher.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jul 23, 2001
Words:255
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