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Beer fight brewing but Budvar not for sale: Czech minister

PRAGUE--The brewer Budvar is to remain state-owned as the new Czech government has no plans to change its ownership, the agriculture minister said Thursday.

Budejovicky Budvar NP has been fighting with U.S. beer giant Anheuser-Busch for over a century over use of the “Budweiser” brand. The legal battle continued when Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgium's InBev in 2008 to create the world's largest brewer.

“I can see no reason to consider the sale of the national enterprise,” Marian Jurecka told The Associated Press in an interview. “In the long term, its contribution to the state budget makes more sense,” said Jurecka who is formally in charge of the company.

Jurecka said Budvar has been in good shape and remained profitable despite the recent economic downturn.

Budvar's exports in 2013 rose 16.1 percent to 763,000 hectoliters (20.15 million gallons) of beer, the best result in 118 years. Budvar exported to 65 countries in 2013 — seven more than the previous year. Its overall output reached 1.424 million hectoliters, also a record and 6.2 percent up from 2012. Net profit reached 320 million koruna (US$16 million).

Budvar will now aim to boost its production capacity by 200,000 hectoliters by 2016 to meet growing demand, Jurecka said.

The trademark legal battle with Anheuser-Busch was another reason to keep it in the state hands for fears it would be acquired by AB InBev.

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