CANADA/US: Labatt Breweries livid as NHL sides with Molson Coors

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Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Canadian subsidiary, Labatt Breweries, has said it is taking legal action to prevent the National Hockey League handing a sponsorship contract to its arch-rival, Molson Coors.
Labatt said yesterday (22 February) that the National Hockey League will terminate Labatt’s current sponsorship deal at the end of June this year. Following this, the NHL will be sponsored by Molson Coors.
However, Labatt, which has sponsored Canada’s NHL for ten years, claims that it had already agreed a new deal with NHL officials.
“We began sponsorship renewal negotiations with the league several months ago to secure sponsorship rights,” said Labatt’s vice president of corporate affairs, Charlie Angelakos. “These negotiations with the NHL proceeded positively and in good faith to the point where the parties had agreed upon the terms of renewal of a sponsorship agreement until 2014,” he said.
“We have an agreement with the league and are pursuing all legal remedies available to us to enforce this agreement,” he added.
Separately, Anheuser-Busch InBev is believed to be annoyed that the NHL has also decided to tie-up with the joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller in the US, MillerCoors. A-B InBev’s Budweiser sponsors 22 out of 24 NHL teams in the US.