Carlsberg launches take-over offer for Chinese brewer

Carlsberg has launched a partial take-over bid worth 2.65 billion Danish crowns ($461.49 million) for 30.31 percent of the shares in Chongqing Brewery Company <600132.SS>, the Danish brewer said on Monday.

If the bid of RMB 20 per share is successful Carlsberg, which announced its immediate plans to up its stake in the Chinese brewery last week, will gain control of CBC and potentially own up to 60 percent of the shares.

The second largest shareholder in CBC, Chongqing Beer Co, has committed to selling its shares with the aim of disposing of its remaining 20 percent stake in CBC," Carlsberg said in a statement.

"Our Asian business is very important for our long-term growth strategy and we are very pleased that we now can take this important step forward in China", Carlsberg CEO and President, Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, said in the statement.

Carlsberg, which inherited a stake in Chongqing Brewery through its takeover of Britain's Scottish and Newcastle, raised it in 2010 to make it the biggest shareholder in the Chinese company with 29.7 percent.

Asia has become the main battle ground for the world's biggest brewers. The region accounted for 18 percent of Carlsberg's total sales volume in 2011 and 12 percent of its operating profit.

Carlsberg, like other beer companies, has been relying on high-growth emerging markets to compensate for weak sales in Europe. But in February the Danish brewer reported that sales growth had stalled in key market Russia.

Last year, Carlsberg said it aimed to increase its stake in Chongqing Brewery to 100 percent as the company tries to offset Europe's weakness, much like bigger rivals AB Inbev , SABMiller and Heineken .

The Carlsberg share is up 0.1 percent at 1047 GMT, underperforming the Copenhagen main index <.OMXC20>, which rises 0.6 percent.

($1 = 5.7423 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Niklas Pollard)