SBD/4/Franchises

SMITH BARNEY TO PUT TOGETHER BID FOR LABATT DEAL

     Smith Barney officials confirmed that the firm is working to
assemble a deal in which Quilmes International SA would acquire
John Labatt Ltd.  Labatt is owner of the Blue Jays, SkyDome, TSN,
and the CFL Argonaunts.  Quilmes is a Luxembourg-based brewer
operating in South America.  The deal would also involve Canada's
Onex Corp.  The announcement confirms the fact that Onex, a
leveraged buyout specialist, is "actively pursuing the purchase
of Labatt, although the stock market seems to think the
likelihood of a takeover is fading."  The stock has dropped
almost C$2 since a 52-week high two weeks ago after news of
Onex's interest in Labatt was reported.  Frederique Carrier, an
analyst with Latinvest Securities Ltd. in London, said Quilmes
has been interested in expanding into Mexico, and Labatt's Femsa
Cerveza brewery would fit into Quilmes' "growth strategy" (Marina
Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/4).
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