Polish billionaire interested in SABMiller East European unit

Sebastian Kulczyk, a Polish billionaire who already owns 1.5% of SABMiller is said to be interested in the East European business of SABMiller, which include brands like Pilsener Urquell (Czech Republic), Tyskie and Lech (Poland), Dreher (Hungary), Ursus (Romania) and Topvar (Slovakia). The breweries are on sale due to the merger with AB InBev as a requirement set by the European Union and its Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.  As Puls Biznesu reported, Kulczyk wants to team up with private equity funds in order to meet AB InBev’s price expectation of about $6 billion.

Kulczyk Holding, founded in 1991 by Jan Kulczyk, the father of the current owner who died on 29 July last year, has played a leading role in transforming Poland from a state-driven to a market-oriented economy. First being involved in the automotive sector the company diversified soon in infrastructure projects, breweries, insurance, energy trading, telecommunication and many more.

Agro Centrum owned by Jan Kulczyk became strategic shareholder in Poland’s leading brewing group Lech Browary Wielkopolski after its privatization in 1993. Two years later Kulczyk attracted SABMiller as a strategic partner. In 1999 Kulczyk Holding led the merger of the breweries Lech Browary Wielkopolski and Browary Tyskie Górny Śląsk to form Kompania Piwowarska with a combined Polish market share of over 40%. Together with SABMiller, Kulczyk Holding acquired in 2003 Polish Browar Dojlidy. In 2008 Browar Belgia, the owner of such brands as Palm and Gingers was also merged with Kompania Piwowarska . After contributing a 28.1% share in Kompania Piwowarska to the SABMiller Group, Kulczyk Holding became the holder of a 3.8% share in the world’s second largest beer producer in 2009. Through later transactions this share has been diluted to the current 1.5%.

Other parties interested in the East European activities of SABMiller are China Resources Beer Holdings and funds like Advent International, BC Partners, KKR, CVC and Mid Europa Partners. Japanese brewer Asahi was reported to be also interested but might be tied up with the purchase of SABMiller’s West European breweries Peroni (Italy), Grolsch (Netherlands) and Meantime (UK).

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