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Norwegian beer sells out

Norway's popular and historic brewery Ringnes will be Danish owned after Norwegian conglomerate Orkla sold its 40 percent share in Denmark's Carlsberg Breweries for NOK 17.5 billion (USD 2.5 billion).

Norway's popular and historic brewery Ringnes will be Danish owned after Norwegian conglomerate Orkla sold its 40 percent share in Denmark's Carlsberg Breweries for NOK 17.5 billion (USD 2.5 billion). Orkla announced unexpectedly high Q4 earnings and the surprise sale on Thursday.

Orkla said the sale, announced by Carlsberg earlier on Thursday, was due to disagreement with the Carlsberg Foundation on the ambitions for Carlsberg Breweries. Orkla had primarily wished to buy all of Carlsberg Breweries (CB).

Representatives for Orkla employees on the company board condemned the sale but could not convince shareholders.

"We believe this is a catastrophe. It breaks with all of Orkla's industrial thinking. There are no industrial motives for this, only financial. This is further illustrated by a third of the price they are getting going directly to shareholders," employee representative Stein Stugu told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

Orkla, whose main business areas are drinks, foods, media and chemicals, said pre-tax profit for the October-December period was hit by a big goodwill write-down on Danish newspaper Berlingske.

Earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA) rose to NOK 996 million (USD 145.6 million) from 897 million in the same 2002 quarter, compared with an average forecast 979 million in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.