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Pressure builds on S&N to accept bid

BY Tara Smith

LONDON Shareholder pressure mounted on Scottish & Newcastle to accept a slight improvement in the offer of 750p ($15) a share from rival brewers Carlsberg and Heineken.

Last month, following Carlsberg and Heineken’s indicative ?7.3 billion ($14.4 billion) offer in November, the UK’s Takeover Panel imposed a January 21 deadline on the company to increase their offer for S&N or walk. Initially, most shareholders felt the 750p offer undervalued the company and were hoping for more than 800p. Recent evidence of falling beer consumption in Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as uncertainty about prospect for financial markets this year, has prompted some investors to lower their expectations.

Also, Legal & General and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, two of the UK brewer’s largest shareholders, said that before considering any offer they needed more information on the prospects for Baltic Beverages Holding, Carlsberg’s Russian 50-50 venture and S&N’s highest-margin and fastest-growing regional business with sales and earnings growing 33 percent last year, lifting profits by a third to ?393 million ($776.2 million). Carlsberg has blocked S&N from issuing more information about BBH, of which Mark Burgess, head of active equities at L&G Investment Management and S&N’s third-largest shareholder, has said that without more transparency on BBH, shareholders could not assess a fair price for S&N.

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Jones Soda names Joth Ricci COO

BY Tara Smith

SEATTLE Jones Soda Co. on Thursday named Joth Ricci as its chief operating officer.

Ricci, 39, will join Jones Soda on Monday. He is currently general manager of Columbia Distributing Company, a beverage distributor based in Portland, Ore.

Peter van Stolk, the founder and chief executive of Jones Soda, recently stepped down. The company did not say why he left, but his departure came after three consecutive quarters of disappointing financial results. Jones also has been hit by several shareholder lawsuits claiming executives and board members pushed up the share price, then sold stock before poor first- and second-quarter earnings reports caused the price to plunge—claims which the company has denied.

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Anheuser-Busch makes push into Latino market

BY Tara Smith

ST. LOUIS Anheuser-Busch’s latest marketing push is geared toward Latinos because of their growing number, expanded buying power and evolving tastes.

By chasing after Spanish-speaking drinkers, big brewers like Anheuser-Busch are benefiting from the Latino culture among non-Hispanic drinkers, as well.

“This [Latino] market is not a niche anymore—it’s a mainstream market,” said Ines Rodriguez-Gutzmer, Atlanta-based senior vice president at Ketchum, an international public relations and marketing agency. “Do you like Shakira? Do you eat tacos? The influence of Hispanic culture is everywhere.”

Anheuser-Busch is planning a 25 percent spending increase this year in Spanish-language advertising. Spending on such national outlets as Telemundo will increase 45 percent. Much of the “air cover” will push Bud Light and Budweiser, the company’s No. 1 and No. 2 beers in the United States. Additionally, the company last year launched an extension to the Bud family to appeal to Latino drinkers. The premixed tomato cocktail, Chelada, is aimed primarily at Mexican-American drinkers, many of whom already were mixing similar cocktails.

Anheuser-Busch expects its broad advertising campaign casting Budweiser as the “Great American Lager” will resonate with Latino aspirers itching to upgrade their beer selections. “Contrary to a lot of people’s thoughts, Budweiser can grow,” said Dave Peacock, vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. beer division.

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