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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Czech Newspaper: Budvar Could Go on the Block

According to the Hospodarske Noviny daily newspaper, the Czech government is considering the possible sale of Budejovicky Budvar, a Communist-era holdover as the last major brewing firm to be state run.

Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman and Environmental Minister Martin Bursik are both quoted as saying that they see no reason why the brewery should be government owned. Riman estimated the brewery could fetch $900 million to $1.4 billion to help close Czech budget shortfalls.

Previous Czech governments have waved off suggestions that Budvar should be privatized, fearing that foreign ownership might have a negative impact on the Bohemian brewery.

Budejovicky Budvar has been in a protracted worldwide legal battle with Anheuser-Busch for decades over ownership of the Budweiser trademark, although the two companies recently signed a U.S. distribution deal for A-B to handle Czechvar, the name used to brand Budvar in America.

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