GUINNESS-GRAND MET MERGER REPORTEDLY IS OPPOSED BY EC

PARIS — Bernard Arnault may have an ally in the European Commission.
As reported, the chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton has been vigorously opposing the proposed merger of LVMH’s longtime partner in the drinks business, Guinness PLC, with Grand Metropolitan PLC.
Now the European Commission, after being approached by Guinness and Grand Met for approval of their plan, has sent back to them a “statement of objections.”
Industry sources say the EC might oppose the deal, notably because it would give Grand Met and Guinness a dominant position in the whiskey business.
Grand Met and Guinness are scheduled for an EC hearing Thursday and Friday in Brussels before a final decision is reached by Oct. 27.
Arnault contends a merger that includes Grand Met’s food firms such as Burger King or Green Giant could not efficiently exploit synergies.
He proposed an alternative plan that would fuse all three companies’ drinks businesses, a plan that was rejected by Grand Met and Guinness.

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