The move, which could see the UK and Danish brewers go to court, comes as S&N tries to fight off a joint takeover bid by Carlsberg and Dutch brewer Heineken. Last week, Carlsberg and Heineken were forced to admit they were in talks to buy and carve up S&N - the UK's only major independent brewer - after details were leaked to the press. S&N called the proposal “unsolicited and unwelcome”.
City analysts and commentators have said that Carlsberg’s main motivation is a desire to control BBH, which owns Russia’s best-selling beer brand Baltika. In a statement issued today, S&N’s board said that after taking legal advice, it considered Carlsberg’s actions to constitute the start of a termination of the BBH partnership agreement “under which Carlsberg is obliged to offer its shares in BBH to S&N”.
It added: “The board is still evaluating whether the best interests of S&N shareholders will ultimately be served by outright ownership of BBH or through the introduction of a new partner(s) into BBH.”
Carlsberg confirmed it had received the letter and said it believes "the claims made have no merit".
S&N and Carlsberg have been partners in BBH since 2002.