New owner for Grolsch with plans for expansion

SABMiller has agreed to buy Grolsch for €816 million (£583 million).

Buying the Dutch brewer

will give it more of a foothold in the UK market, where Grolsch is the eighth-largest off-trade beer brand. The brewer also plans to grow the brand in Africa, Latin America and central and eastern Europe.

SAB said it planned to use spare capacity at Grolsch's

3.8 million hl brewery - completed in 2004 - to bring more of its international brands to western markets.

The bid came shortly after

Coors, which

supplies Grolsch under licence in the UK, announced plans to release a 4 per cent abv version of the premium lager and to launch wheat variant Grolsch Weizen in the off-trade.

Coors said the buyout would not affect its contract in the UK, while a spokeswoman for SABMiller said it was "too early to say" what would happen about

distribution here.

SABMiller has reported strong first-half results for the six months to September 2007. In the UK the brewer saw volumes grow 42 per cent, with Peroni Nastro Azzurro volumes increasing 33 per cent thanks to new packs and a national advertising campaign. The brewer said its Polish brands Tyskie and Lech were also "performing very strongly". The

portfolio also includes Czech Pilsner Urquell and Peruvian Cusqueña.