Czech billionaires teaming up in bid to buy country’s top brewery

Photo: archive of Plzeňský Prazdroj

Two Czech billionaires have teamed up in an effort to buy the country’s top brewery, Plzeňský Prazdroj, according to Hospodářské noviny. The country’s wealthiest man, Petr Kellner, and Pavel Tykač, fifth on the rich list, want to get their hands on the Pilsner Urquell-producer and other regional breweries being sold off by SABMiller.

Photo: archive of Plzeňský Prazdroj
Earlier this year the European Commission granted the world’s two biggest beer companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, approval to merge.

There was one major proviso. Most of SABMiller’s holdings in Europe have to be sold off so as to ensure competition in those markets remains healthy.

This also concerns Plzeňský Prazdroj, the Czech Republic’s leading maker and exporter of beer and the producer of its best-known brand, Pilsner Urquell.

Petr Kellner is the owner of the PPF investment group and the Czech Republic’s richest person. The country’s fifth wealthiest inhabitant is Pavel Tykač, who owns power company Czech Coal.

Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday that Mr. Kellner had approached Mr. Tykač with a view to teaming up to make a bid of CZK 175 billion to SABMiller for Plzeňský Prazdroj and four other central European breweries.

The companies concerned are Slovakia’s Topvar, Dreher from Hungary, Romania’s Ursus and Kompania Piwowarska from Poland.

A source told the business daily that Mr. Kellner and his PPF would put up most of the money, with Mr. Tykač obtaining a minority stake.

Hospodářské noviny quoted an analyst as saying PPF was now increasingly focusing its attentions on the Czech market. This is borne out by its acquisitions of telecoms operator O2 and Sazka, the top betting company.

A number of investment groups and other beer makers are also interested in Plzeňský Prazdroj and the four breweries. So is MOL, an oil and gas concern from Hungary.

Reuters reported last week that there were at least six indicative offers. It said that three of the other bids were also from consortiums.

Hospodářské noviny said on Monday that the list of finalists would be released in the coming days by the consultancy firm overseeing the sell-off for the European Commission.

The expected price should make the deal one of the biggest ever seen in the history of the Czech Republic and Central Europe. It has not yet been decided whether the breweries will be sold off in one job-lot or split into two packages.

Hospodářské noviny said its sources suggested that if the Czech billionaire duo were successful, they would probably sell off parts of the group of breweries in the medium term.