Scottish group a front runner to buy Cains

From The Liverpool Daily Post by Alex Turner August 27 2008

THE first firm bidder for Cains brewery emerged yesterday.

Glasgow-based management and investment group Marketing Management Services International (MMSI), which already owns a micro-brewery on the Isle of Arran, has tabled a bid to acquire the collapsed Stanhope Street operation from its administrator.

The news comes on the same day that it was confirmed that 24 of its pubs will close with the loss of around 180 jobs. The Scottish brewer promised that the brewery would stay in Liverpool if its bid was successful.

The administrator, PricewaterhouseCoopers, was yesterday sifting through a number of other bids it has received as it looks to find a buyer for the company, which operates a brewery and a retail division.

One-fifth of the Cains’ pubs have been shut in the last week, including The Ship Inn in Lathom and The Thatch Inn, in Blowick, Southport, as the administrators seek to maintain the company as a going concern.

They have said they do not intend to close any of the 91 remaining pubs, which are mainly in the North West.

MMSI yesterday confirmed it has lodged a bid for the company.

Gerald Michaluk, MMSI managing director, is excited at the possibility of owning Cains, which he described as a “pretty interesting brewery”.

He said: “We wouldn’t be moving it because it then ceases to be a local brewery. We will keep it in Liverpool, employing people in Liverpool and brewing beer in Liverpool.”

About 100 staff are employed at Cains’ Toxteth brewery, which is continuing to operate normally despite the firm’s financial problems. It produces own-brand lagers as well as Cains-branded beers.

MMSI bought real ale brewer Arran Brewery in June, also from administrators, and said then that it was looking for other breweries. “We own the Arran brewery and we have an interest in expanding our portfolio and an interest in real ales,” he added.

The value of the bid was not disclosed but Mr Michaluk described it as “massive”. MMSI’s bid is being backed by a group of Scottish investors.

And although competition for the company is expected to come from Midland brewer Marston’s and former owners Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj, Mr Michaluk is confident that the MMSI bid is attractive because of one factor, “money”.

“The administrators will be hard-pushed not to take the highest offer,” he said. “Whether we are the highest bidder, we will have to see.

“This is the biggest bid that I have ever made. The amount we raised covers the acquisition, cashflow requirements and investment, which is always more than you think.”

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