Bidders line up for Liefmans

18 April, 2008

Hopes are high that Liefmans could resume brewing under new ownership after a Belgian court placed the company in

the hands of liquidators last week.

The brewer, famous for its paper-wrapped fruit beers, collapsed at the end of last year - five years after being bought by private equity investors.

UK partner James Clay, which has been the main supplier of Liefmans for

some 15 years, lost around 100 on and off-trade listings after brewing was suspended and supplies ran out.

The company has about a month's stock but faces uncertain times as bidders line up to take control of the Belgian brewer. Duvel Moortgat, which does not have a fruit beer in its portfolio, is thought to be the most likely new owner.

James Clay managing director Ian Clay said: "We've been getting about 20 phone calls a day asking about Liefmans. It's been a difficult time, both professionally and personally."

Although sales of Liefmans were strong, Clay said investors appeared to have run out of working capital, partly due to unexpectedly high costs of complying with new water treatment regulations.

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