AB InBev buys Pivovar Samson

Beer mat for Samson, file photo.
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Maker of American Budweiser says the move strengthens its legal claim on name

České Budějovice, South Bohemia, July 2 (ČTK) — Cyprus-based company Taurus One Limited has sold 100 percent of shares in Czech brewery Pivovar Samson to Anheuser-Busch group, a unit of the world's brewing leader AB InBev (ABI), Taurus's media representative Michal Donath told ČTK.

 “I can only confirm that the acquisition has taken place but we will not disclose its price. Anheuser is a 100-percent owner of Pivovar Samson a.s. now,” Donath said.

ABI has confirmed the acquisition but declined to disclose financial details of the deal either. It has only said that Samson's production will become part of in ABI's European activities.

Czech brewery Budějovický Budvar, based in České Budějovice, the same city as Pivovar Samson, “is not endangered by the sale of Pivovar Samson to the supranational group Anheuser-Busch InBev. The change of the owner has no influence on trademarks, nor on the course of court disputes between Budějovický Budvar and ABI, nor on its (Budějovický Budvar's) business activity,” Budějovický Budvar spokesman Petr Samec said.

Budějovický Budvar's management believes that the aim of the acquisition is to resolve the difficult business condition of Pivovar Samson.

 “Pivovar Samson a.s. is neither a legal nor historic successor to the former (České Budějovice's) municipal brewery named Die Budweiser Braeuberechtigten-Buergerliches Braeuhaus Budweis, gegruendet im jahre 1795. It does not therefore own trademarks containing the name Budweiser and it runs business under the Samson brand only. For this reason the change of the owner does not pose any risk for Budějovický Budvar in court disputes with ABI,” Samec said.

The Agriculture Ministry, the founder of the state-run Budějovický Budvar, is of a similar opinion. “According to available information, the change of the owner has no influence on trademarks or on the course of court disputes,” Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka told ČTK.

The ministry, in cooperation with Budějovický Budvar's management, is preparing further development of export possibilities. “We are not planning privatization of Budějovický Budvar. We are investing in the development and extension of its production capacities. Our aim is to increase its beer output and exports and to create new jobs in this connection,” Jurečka said.

ABI nevertheless said the acquisition has strengthened its legal position as relates the Budweiser brand.

According to the on-line database of the Czech Industrial Property Office, Pivovar Samson owns around 30 trademarks, none them containing the word Budweiser. Some trademarks with this name are nevertheless owned by company Budějovický mestansky pivovar (BMP), which ABI acquired in 2011.

Budějovický Budvar and ABI have been in court disputes over the Budweiser trademark since 1907. Budějovický Budvar has won about 70 percent of the cases so far. In 2000 to 2013, a total of 184 court disputes and administrative proceedings were closed, of which Budějovický Budvar won 125 cases. Ten disputes ended in a settlement or a draw.

Due to the registration of the trademarks Budweiser and Budweiser Budvar, which belong to Budějovický Budvar, ABI is not allowed to use its key brand Budweiser in around 70 countries.

The original owner of Pivovar Samson was Cyprus-based company Harvestor, which changed its name to Taurus at the beginning of this year.

According to server motejlek.com, the acquisition of Pivovar Samson means the completion of a transaction which started in 2011, when Anheuser-Busch InBev bought the brewery's trademarks. The current acquisition means that the global giant has taken over the brewery itself and will brew beer in České Budějovice, the server said.

Pivovar Samson has not been disclosing its output results in recent years. In spring last year it said it was going to raise its total output by 60 percent to 190,000 hectolitres of beer but according to information released later, it failed to do so.

The brewery nevertheless managed to double the sale of the oldest non-alcoholic beer Pito, producing around 10,000 hectolitres in 2013.

 

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