The future of the brewer and pub company Jennings could be decided by beer enthusiasts, after the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged the firm's shareholders to reject a proposed £45.8m takeover by the brewer Wolverhampton & Dudley (W&DB).
Camra feared that W&DB could close Jennings' Cockermouth brewery in Cumbria, despite W&DB's assurance that it would keep brewing there.
Camra's chief executive Mike Benner said: "I think the only way to guarantee the future of the brewery is to defend its independence as a vertically integrated company." He doubted W&DB's ability to achieve its aim of an annual £2m of savings at Jennings, especially as the firm has had three years of "double digit percentage growth in pre-tax profits"
Camra owns 1.25% of Jennings' shares and has called on other shareholders to vote against the takeover, which the Jennings board had recommended. W&DB said that it had already received conditional acceptances from holders of nearly 27% of the shares.
W&DB has 537 managed pubs and 1,610 let to tenants or leased. Its WDB Brands brewing arm makes Marston's Pedigree, Banks's and Mansfield beers. Jennings has 128 pubs in the north and the Cockermouth brewery supplies the on and the off trade.