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Two Brewers Hit The Altar


In Business This Week: HEADLINER: WILLIAM HENRY

TWO BREWERS HIT THE ALTAR

For more than a decade, the beer buzz said that Detroit-based Stroh Brewery wanted to buy G. Heileman Brewing, the Wisconsin maker of Old Style and Pink Champale. Stroh CEO William Henry had watched this prize change hands three times since joining the company in 1981. Henry slaked his thirst on Feb. 29 by agreeing to buy Heileman for close to $300 million. The deal gives No.4 Stroh more than 9% of the beer market. But hold the toasts: Both Stroh and Heileman saw volume decline in 1995. Henry figures the two brewers are a good fit, and he may be able to cut some overlap. A former Ford bean counter, Henry has been adding fizz to Stroh's performance since he became president in 1991. Stroh ships beer all over the world, and at home, where young drinkers favor pricey microbrews, Stroh brews ale under contract for the likes of Samuel Adams. Stroh's own brands are in the so-called subpremium segment, where profits are just that. Now, Henry has some new brews he can play with.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLAND $by By Kathleen KerwinReturn to top

REACH OUT AND JUMP A CLAIM

CROSSED WIRES ARE TAKING on a whole new meaning. Now that the regulatory floodgates have opened, telecom companies are tripping over each other in their rush to enter each others' markets. Consider the moves this week: AT&T completed filings to offer local telephone service in all 50 states and hopes to start handling local calls in some regions by this summer. GTE began offering long-distance service for the first time to its local calling customers in Michigan and Minnesota. BellSouth announced plans to offer local service in those parts of Florida now controlled by Sprint. And Pacific Telesis filed with state regulators to offer long-distance calling in California, the first of the Baby Bells to seek to offer long-distance service in its own region. To quote Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

RJR BUYS SOME RELIEF FROM LEBOW

TAKE THAT! RJR NABISCO finally lobbed a hand grenade at its nemesis, activist shareholder Bennett LeBow. On Mar. 5, the company boosted its dividend by 23%, to $1.85, higher than expected, and adopted a program to repurchase 10 million shares during the next several years, with $100 million allocated for 1996. Analysts say the RJR moves will hurt LeBow's chances of winning the proxy battle slated for the annual meeting on Apr. 17, where shareholders will choose between the incumbent board of directors and one led by LeBow.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

A SALE AT SAKS?

JUST LIKE PLATFORM SHOES, those old rumors have a way of coming back. Retailing and Wall Street sources say that Bahrain-based Investcorp is preparing to sell a stake in Saks Fifth Avenue to the public. Investcorp bought the upscale retailer in 1990 for a cool $1.6 billion. Wall Street has been expecting a partial sale, especially since Investcorp made big money selling a slice of Gucci Group in 1995. Saks' lackluster performance long made a deal impossible. But after store closings and refurbishings, things are looking up. Says Henry Jackson, a principal at Peter J. Solomon: "I think it will be a very successful offering." Neither Investcorp nor Saks Fifth Avenue will comment.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


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