Austria: Ottakringer buys back shares to allow for quick transactions

Sigi Menz (65), CEO of Ottakringer Getränke, one of Austria’s biggest privately owned brewing and mineral water bottling facilities, will retire at the beginning of July. He will be succeeded by Alfred Hudler, CEO of Ottakringer’s non-alcoholic arm Vöslauer.

Menz joined the brewery in 1984 as controller of the company and was promoted as CEO in 2000. He and his family owns 15% of the Ottakringer Group. The majority is still owned by families Trauttenberg und Pfusterschmid. About 6% of the public listed company is free-float. According to a report by Kleine Zeitung, Ottakringer intends to buy back 190,000 of its ordinary shares before Menz’s retirement, thus nearly eliminating the free float.

Still, Ottakringer wants to stay a public listed company. The shares, are intended to be used as a currency to allow quick transactions in the market. Despite the fact that Ottakringer currently does not have transactions at hand, the buy-back of shares will allow to profit from opportunities in the market as they occur.

In the past , the group expanded its business outside the Austrian borders, when it bought Pécsi Sörfőzde in Pécs, Hungary, in 1993 and seven years later in 2000 Innstadt Brauerei in Passau, Germany.  After years of losses, the strategy was reversed when the German subsidiary was closed in 2014 and the Hungarian subsidiary sold last year.

According to Menz, the company is today well-off: "We have a good size, our strengths are our brands and the ownership structure of a family business that does not have to be dictated by the anonymity of large companies," he said.

The group achieved a turn-over of €218 million in 2017 with 870 employees.

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