Bass bidders will have to wait

Belgian brewer Interbrew is looking for a review of the decision not to allow its takeover of Bass to go ahead.

Interbrew, the Belgian brewer, has confirmed that it is seeking a judicial review of the UK government’s decision earlier this month to force it to sell off Bass Brewers, which it bought for £2.3bn (E3.6) last year. The company was told by the UK government that it must sell the pubs to an approved bidder.

Shares in Interbrew, which bought the breweries subject to regulatory approval in August last year, fell 20 per cent upon the news.

The Belgian brewer is also writing off E1.2bn against its 2000 financial results to cover the potential consequences of the decision.

Interbrew said it had received the advice confirming that the decision by Stephen Byers, the UK trade and industry secretary, was “significantly disproportionate in relation to the prospective adverse effects identified by the Competition Commission”, the Financial Times reports.

US private equity firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and Danish brewer Carlsberg, who both lost out to Interbrew last year are rumoured to be interested in the acquisition. Dutch brewer Heineken is also said to be in the running.