STOCKHOLM May 23 Norway's Orkla,
Danish brewer Royal Unibrew and private equity firm
Nordic Capital have proceeded to the second round of bidding for
Heineken's Finnish division Hartwall, three people
familiar with the matter said.
The sources, who put the value of Hartwall at around 500
million euros ($644 million), declined to be identified because
the auction process for the maker of Lapin Kulta beer is not
Two of the people said an additional private equity firm
might also still be in the running.
Royal Unibrew is Denmark's second-largest brewer after
Carlsberg. Like Hartwall, Royal Unibrew has a license
agreement with PepsiCo. It is also a licensee in Denmark
for Heineken beer and took over distribution of Heineken beer in
the Baltic states this year.
Royal Unibrew has a market capitalisation of around 5.8
billion Danish crowns ($1.0 billion). Even though its debt is
well below the top level it has set as a target, it would have
to finance an acquisition of Hartwall partly by issuing new
shares, the people said.
Orkla, a conglomerate specialising in consumer products that
is offloading non-core businesses, has a market value about nine
times that of Royal Unibrew and deeper pockets. A person close
to the process said Orkla had hired Credit Suisse as financial
"I think it (Hartwall) will end up with Orkla or with
private equity," one of the people said.
Heineken said in February it would review options for
Hartwall and that it might sell the unit. Sources told Reuters
in April that Heineken and its financial adviser JP Morgan had
launched a sale.
Nordic Capital, Orkla, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan declined
to comment while Royal Unibrew and Heineken were not immediately
available for comment.
($1 = 5.7888 Danish crowns)
($1 = 0.7766 euros)
(Reporting by Sven Nordenstam; Editing by Mark Potter)