Coors and Molson to merge, but Miller may bid to buy Molson

UPDATE Canada's Competition Bureau said Wednesday it has no objection to the proposal to merge brewers Molson Inc. of Montreal and Adolph Coors Co. of Golden, Colo. A spokesman said the agency reviewed the proposed deal, announced last July, and did not find any reasons to block it. "We reviewed it and it raised no issues under the Competition Act," spokesman Tim Weil said. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission gave its nod to the deal last week. With these administrative hurdles behind them, the brewers expect their joint proxy circular filed Sept. 18 to be cleared by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by mid-November. It would then be submitted to Quebec Superior Court and mailed to Molson shareholders. A vote by Molson shareholders is tentatively scheduled for the week of Dec. 13. If two-thirds of both classes of shareholders vote in favor, the two brewers would together become the third-largest beer maker in North America, with combined sales of about $6 billion. AP Article 09/21/04 [Editor's Note: Will this affect Champ Car's four Canadian races? We doubt it.] The Milwaukee Journal reports, Miller Brewing Co.'s corporate parent is reportedly considering a bid for Molson Inc., Canada's largest brewer – which could be good news for Miller and bad news for its rival, Adolph Coors Co. In July, Golden, Colo.-based Coors and Montreal-based Molson announced plans to merge their family-controlled breweries, a move that would create the world's fifth-largest beer-maker. But some Molson shareholders, including former Deputy Chairman Ian Molson, have said they will vote against the proposal – raising doubts about whether the merger will gain approval.

The Toronto Globe and Mail and the Wall Street Journal reported that London-based SABMiller Plc is in preliminary talks with Ian Molson and Toronto-based investment firm Onex Corp. about a possible joint offer to buy Molson. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, reported Thursday that talks were at an early stage and might not result in an offer. An SABMiller spokesman declined to comment. Some industry observers said they doubt SABMiller will make an offer. "I don't put too much stock" in the reports, said Harry Schumacher, editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily, an industry newsletter.

He said both Coors and Molson executives are continuing to express confidence that the merger will occur, despite Ian Molson's opposition. Ian Molson quit the board in June after a feud with his cousin, Eric H. Molson, the chairman. More….

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