SBD/22/Franchises

LABATT DISMISSES BID; LOOKING TO A-B AS WHITE KNIGHT?

     The battle for John Labatt Ltd. "heated up" over the weekend
as President George Taylor accused Onex Corp. of trying to
"steal" his brewing business with a low offer.   On Thursday,
Onex Corp. offered C$2.3B in an unsolicted bid for Labatt, which
also owns the Blue Jays, Argonaunts, TSN, and a percentage of
SkyDome.  In a statement released on Friday, Taylor claimed that
Labatt is "in discussion with several parties" interested in
acquiring all or part of the comppany.  Taylor:  "We are
confident that alternate arrangements will emerge that will more
accurately reflect the true value of the company's assets for all
shareholders."  The market is "expecting a higher bid, judging
from the heavy trading in Labatt shares," according to Marina
Strauss in the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  Among possible suitors:
Anheuser-Busch and CanWest Global Communications (Toronto GLOBE &
MAIL, 5/20).  A-B declined comment amid rumors "it was acting as
a white knight suitor" for Labatt.  Labatt is A-B's Canadian
partner and brews and distributes Budweiser In Canada, but a deal
"would present some complications" as A-B already owns an MLB
team, the Cardinals (AD AGE ONLINE, 5/22).  Labatt shareholders
"seem delighted by the hostile takover bid" by Onex, according to
Larry Greenberg in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Michael
Palmer, an analyst at Equity Research in Toronto: "The management
has no support from shareholders.  The company is gone."
Greenberg adds Miller to A-B as possibly interested in a bid for
Labatt (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).  BUSINESS WEEK examines
Labatt's woes: "Did Labatt Guzzle Too Much Too Fast" (William
Symonds, BUSINESS WEEK, 5/29 issue).
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