COPENHAGEN Danish brewer Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) is to sell most of a former Copenhagen brewery site to a group of investors for 2.5 billion Danish crowns ($441 million), which will help reduce debt.
The new owners will be a consortium of pension funds Realdania, PFA and Pensam as well as insurer Topdanmark (TOP.CO), the brewer said.
Carlsberg, which will keep a 25 percent stake in the site, will book a pretax capital gain of about 1.7 billion Danish crowns in the second quarter from the sale.
The group's free cashflow will get a boost of about 1.9 billion Danish crowns and net interest-bearing debt will fall by a similar amount, the company said. Carlsberg's net debt was 32.5 billion Danish crowns at the end of 2011.
"We are satisfied with the sales price," CFO Jorn Jensen told Reuters, adding the remaining 25 percent stake was a long-term investment for the group.
He said the deal would not change the company's 2012 outlook nor have a significant impact on Carlsberg's ability to carry out acquisitions.
"We are...satisfied that the Carlsberg Group is already now realizing significant value from this transaction which will be used to further deleverage the group," Jensen said in a statement.
In February, the world's fourth biggest brewer had forecast a slight rise in 2012 adjusted net profit from 5.2 billion crowns in 2011.
The financial impact of the brewery site sale was not included in the group's 2012 expectations published in February.
"It will further reduce the group's gearing, freeing more capital for acquisitions," said Alm Brand analyst Stig Nymann.
He said expectations for the sales price had been higher than 2.5 billion crowns, but that the final price was not bad considering a fall in property prices in Denmark.
Carlsberg shares were up 1.5 percent at 460.50 crowns by 1035 GMT, outperforming a 0.4 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 food and beverage index .SX3P and a 1.0 percent rise in the Copenhagen stock exchange's benchmark index .OMXC20.
(Reporting by Mette Fraende and Teis Jensen; Editing by Mark Potter and Jane Merriman)