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Interbrew acquires brewing activities of Whitbread

Brussels, 25 May, 2000 - Interbrew, the World's Local Brewer©, today announced that it completed the acquisition of Whitbread PLC's brewing business ("Whitbread Brewing") for GBP 400 million. With this transaction Interbrew is making another important step in realising its global ambitions. It allows Interbrew to regain full control of its Stella Artois brand (which has been brewed in the UK by Whitbread Brewing since 1976) in an important international market. Following this transaction, Interbrew's UK market share will be 10%. Interbrew will finance the acquisition from its own resources. Lehman Brothers acted as advisors for this acquisition.

Whitbread Brewing is the third largest brewer in the United Kingdom with a turnover of GBP 1,116 million for the year to 4 March, 2000. It owns breweries at Magor, Samlesbury and Manchester. In addition to Stella Artois, the brand portfolio includes Boddingtons and Heineken, the latter being produced under licence by Whitbread PLC. The current transaction does not include the Heineken licence agreement, which will be retained by Whitbread PLC.

Hugo Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Interbrew, commented: "We are very pleased with this transaction. Interbrew is the logical buyer for Whitbread Brewing, not only because it already brews Stella Artois, the number one premium lager in the UK, under license, but also because the business perfectly complements our strategy of being a world brewer with a strong local presence in our key markets. This transaction builds on the long-standing and successful partnership between our companies. "

The UK beer market, which is under rapid consolidation, offers exciting opportunities for Interbrew. The increasing sales of Stella Artois, the number one premium lager in the UK, in excess of 3 million hectolitres per year, provide a strong base for organic growth. The newly acquired Whitbread brands will add value to Interbrew's portfolio of high quality local brands.

Interbrew will honour the existing employment and pension rights of Whitbread Brewing's 3,900 employees. Interbrew also looks forward to continuing to develop the strong relationships Whitbread Brewing enjoys with its customers and suppliers.

The terms of the acquisition include transitional arrangements for Whitbread PLC to satisfy its existing obligations to Heineken. All three companies have discussed the sale in advance of today's announcement and will continue to co-operate in the best interests of Whitbread Brewing's customers, brands and people. The terms of the sale also include a provision whereby a further payment of up to GBP 50 million may become due to Whitbread PLC depending on certain conditions relating to the future development of the brewing business under Interbrew's ownership.

Hugo Powell concluded: "At Interbrew, the World's Local Brewer©, beer is our business. Our ambition is to be a leading and successful player in the world beer market by leveraging local cultures, local brands and, last but not least, utilising the skills of local management, employees and workers."

Images and pictures can be downloaded in the press section of the Interbrew web site: http://www.interbrew.com.

About Interbrew

Interbrew - the World's Local Brewer©
Interbrew is the 5th brewer in the world in terms of volume. It is a privately owned company headquartered in Belgium that employs over 24,000 people worldwide. Interbrew, the World's Local Brewer©, is committed to combining its global position and ambition with leveraging its local brands. The strength of its portfolio is the combination of strong local brands, in many cases market leaders, with world brands including Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe and Belle-Vue. In total, Interbrew's beers are sold in over 110 countries. Interbrew is the lead investor in www.beer.com

Contact information

Corneel Maes - Corporate Press Officer
Tel: +32-16-31 57 69
GSM: +32-75-92-27-69
Fax: +32-16-24-76-76
E-mail: corneel.maes@interbrew.com


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