Greene King bought by Hong Kong property developer for £3bn

A Hong Kong billionaire has announced plans to acquire British brewer Greene King for almost £3 billion.

Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man and the owner of property developer CK Asset, has reportedly reached an agreement to buy the brewer for 850p per share (a 51% premium) which is £2.7bn in total.

A spokesman for CK Asset was quoted in the Financial Times as saying the strategy was to look for businesses with “stable and resilient characteristics” and that the UK pub and brewing sector was exactly that.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said that CK Assests, “understand the strengths of our business and we welcome their commitment to working with the existing management team, evolving the strategy and investing in the business to ensure its continued long-term growth.”

The Suffolk-based brewer owns 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country making it the UK’s biggest pub owner.

Shares in the company have jumped around 50% following the news but pub association CAMRA issued a concerned statement, with national chairman, Nik Antona, saying: “The news that Britain’s largest pub and brewery company has been sold to an international asset company is very concerning for our beer scene.

“We are always wary of one company controlling a large share of the market, which is seldom beneficial for consumers. Greene King has been in operation for over 200 years and it is a very sad day to see such a well-known, historic and respected name exit the brewing and pub business.
“We hope that Greene King will continue its operations as normal without any disappointing changes. We will be calling on the new owners to retain the current pub portfolio to safeguard thousands of pubs and jobs across the country.”

In 2015 China’s premier Xi Jinping and then prime minister David Cameron were pictured drinking a pint each of the brewer’s IPA during a state visit, which sparked a wave of interest in the beer in China.

The pub was even bought by Chinese investors afterwards and is now a tourist attraction for visiting Chinese.

It is not the first buyout of a British brewer by foreign investors. At the start of the year Fuller’s sold its brewing operation (though not the pub arm) to Japan’s Asahi brewing group for £250m.

2 Responses to “Greene King bought by Hong Kong property developer for £3bn”

  1. Ray Pugh says:

    Don’t buy from any Greene King Companies in future – It’s s now going to be bought by the Chinese!

  2. Keith Grainger says:

    I drank my last pint of Fullers following their sell-out. I have now dunk my last pint of Greene King, and will not visit or stay in any of their pubs again. The hard-working generation who built these once great breweries and estates would never in their darkest dreams think that the results of all their hard work would be traded for 40 pieces of silver.

    I don’t think that such heritage should be sold overseas. These sales are akin to selling the Crown Jewels or the Tower of London.
    Does this make me a xenophobe? Emphatically no. I’m proud to share the most wonderful relationships with wine and beer producers from over 20 countries, including mainland China.

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