CORPORATE BRIEFS

Topvar brewery shareholders reject SAB investment bid

The board of directors as well as the shareholders' meeting of Topvar brewery, based in Topoľčany, rejected a foreign capital investment bid on November 11. The top management and the company shareholders agreed that they would not approve a sale of a 15% stake controlled by the municipality of Topoľčany to a foreign investor.

Topvar production director and vice-chairman of the board, Ferdinand Neuwirth, said that the municipal authorities in Topolcany had accepted an offer from South African Breweries (SAB) to buy 215 shares for 450,000 Sk per share, subject to the approval of the other shareholders.

"Topvar senior representatives negotiated with SAB representatives and it emerged from the talks that SAB would want to increase its stake in Topvar in the future. However, Topvar is a joint-stock company established by the brewery's employees, and we have accepted a commitment that we would not sell it," Neuwirth stressed. He said that Topvar is able to cover its operating costs and investments from its own sources or loans and that they need no capital entry.

Topvar is the largest of twelve breweries in Slovakia to remain in exclusively Slovak hands, and is the third largest brewery in the country. International companies control the two biggest breweries in Slovakia (Šariš and Zlatý Bažant). The majority owner in Šariš brewery is SAB, one of the largest brewers in the world, while the Dutch firm Heineken controls Zlatý Bažant.

Topvar brewery reported sales of 321 million Sk in the first half of 1998, up 25% over the same period of 1997. Gross profit swelled by 14% to 11.1 million Sk. Besides beer and malt, the company also produces soft drinks.

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