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Takeover trouble brewing.

REAL-ale buffs are warning Midlands beer drinkers to expect a bleak future if Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries' 110 years of independence come to an end.

The Campaign for Real Ale says any takeover of the firm would lead to a carve-up of its pubs and herald the end of brewing in the town.

Wolverhampton & Dudley has rejected two offers over the past fortnight from the same consortium - headed by investment bankers Botts & Co and Noble House Leisure - but its pursuers aren't ready to take no for an answer.

Noble House is run by pub entrepreneur Robert Breare. He is keen to get a closer look at Wolverhampton and Dudley's books with a view to making a firmer offer for the brewer of Banks's beers and owner of brewers Marston's, Mansfield and Cameron's.

It is a move that Wolverhampton & Dudley is blocking, claiming that both bids have undervalued it.

'Robert Breare is just after the value of the managed pubs,' warns CAMRA spokesman Iain Loe. 'The other bits of the operation will be sold off.

'At the end of the day, I would see two of the four breweries closing.

'Robert Breare talked about things moving along on a friendly basis, but none of this is going to be very friendly for the beer drinker or the pub-goer.'

Coun Norman Davies, leader of Wolverhampton Council, describes the prospect of a takeover as 'worrying' and has vowed to fight against any move.

'Wolverhampton & Dudley employs a lot of people in our town and we would oppose any takeover of it,' he says.

'We want to keep Banks's beers brewed in Wolverhampton and we want to keep the jobs of those

who brew them.'
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 27, 2000
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