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Trinidad conglomerate battling Brazilian company for Barbados brewery

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2015 | 10:46 AM

Trinidad-based conglomerate, ANSA McAL, has increased its offer to shareholders as its moves to take over the BHL group, which owns Banks Breweries, Pine Hill Dairy, Barbados Bottling Company and Banks Distribution.

"We are pleased to put a superior offer on the table that we believe is best for Banks, best for Barbados and that will address some of the issues raised by stakeholders in the media over the last couple of weeks," said Nicholas Mouttet, president and chief executive officer of ANSA McAL Barbados.

ANSA McAL faces a challenge from the SLU Beverages Limited, which is controlled by the Brazilian corporation Ambev.

SLU Beverages had offered shareholders BDS$4 to acquire majority shares, but ANSA McAL, through its subsidiary AM Caribbean Development Ventures Limited, countered with a BDS$5.20 offer.

Last month, Ambev's vice-president for Central America and Caribbean operations Edwardo Lacerda said Barbados would benefit from additional exports under its control.

"The employees will have not only possibility to grow in their careers within Barbados but also they will be part of an international company and, therefore, be able to grow their careers internationally. And the population will have a company investing in the local market and the local brand and try to make it as good as possible," said Lacerda. "I see this as a win-win opportunity for everyone."

Mouttet said that if the ANSA McAL bid is successful, it would permit the conglomerate to consolidate English-speaking Caribbean beer brands, joining the Carib, Stag, Mackeson and Red Stripe, and result in new business

development plans for BHL.

But he said BHL would retain its name and remain in Barbados.

"At the close of the proposed transaction, BHL will remain a stand-alone business with the Banks name, iconic value and headquarters unchanged. ANSA McAL intends to utilise Barbados' location, quality of people and management expertise to expand the Barbados-based production entities into regional champions. The plan is to grow and accelerate the development of the manufacturing platform in Barbados and enhance competitiveness, thus supporting government policy as articulated in the National Strategic Plan," Mouttet said.

Meanwhile, the Concerned BHL shareholders group has welcomed the ANSA McAL offer, saying "it is refreshing to know that the offer from Ambev has been challenged.

"We are pleased that the second offer, lodged by ANSA McAL is on par with the BDS$5.20 per share "fair market value" price specified by accounting firm KPMG in their circular from the BHL directors. We believe as shareholders in BHL, we have every right to receive the best value for our shares. As such, we look forward to any other offers and invite BHL shareholders to consider the big picture and the long-term implications of the choice we make," the shareholder group said.

But the shareholder group also advised that it was "stepping cautiously until we have fully examined the official document setting out the terms of the new offer".