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Ringnes sold to Denmark

Norwegian beer lovers are furious as Orkla has decided to sell the brewery Ringnes to Danish Carlsberg.

Orkla reached the decision to sell their entire 40 percent ownership in the Nordic brewery company Carlsberg Breweries to Carlsberg, and as a result, Ringnes, and the Ringnes owned beer brands like Tou, E.C. Dahls and Nordlandspils, is now owned in its entirety by the Danes.

«It is kind of funny to think that if Jens P (Heyerdal, former head of Orkla) had remained at Orkla, he would have worked in the direction of buying up all of Carlsberg Breweries,» said Torkjell Berulfsen, one of the Norwegian television channel NRK’s most famous characters, to TV 2 Nettavisen.

«It has now gone in the opposite direction, and yet another Norwegian industry tradition has disappeared out of the country in order for someone to make a quick buck.»

The Ringnes employees condemn the sale. They state that the Carlsberg administration stand for destructive business culture and industrial politics, and they warn of great unrest at the up coming corporate assembly.

Blame the Norwegian alcohol duties
Also Norway’s beer lovers react negatively on the news. 'Norske Ølvenners landsforbund' (Norøl - Norwegian beer lovers national association) stated that the sale is a result of Norwegian authorities alcohol duties.

«Short sighted Norwegian tax policies and the authorities wish to drive the Norwegian brewery industry into the ground have most likely contributed to Orkla pulling out,» said Torbjørn Bull-Njaa, head of Norøl, to TV 2 Nettavisen.

«The loyalty of Norwegian consumers is weakened even more.»

Harder times for local beer
Pilsens Venner (beer friends) in Arendal fear that the decision will make it even more difficult for smaller breweries to maintain local beer traditions.

«There is probably nobody in Norway who approves of this, except the people who make money on the sale,» said Bjørn Nyhus, member of Pilsens Venner, to TV 2 Nettavisen.

«We have had a beer culture in this country for a long, long time. Ringnes has done much to water down that culture, and it is most likely going to be even worse now.»

Nyhus fears that there will be an even greater concentration of a few, large brands, which may be used to kill local production.

Ownership not important
The Norwegian Brewers and Soft Drink Producers take Orkla’s decision with ease. CEO Helge Hasselgård states that Carlsberg already was a majority owner even before today’s sale.

«Carlsberg already owned 60 percent,» Hasslegård said to TV 2 Nettavisen.

«This is basically an internationalization of the industry. There is no reason to say that for example E.C. Dahls is going to become less ‘trøndersk’ (from Trøndelag, district in mid Norway) after today’s decision to sell.»

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