AB InBev finalises Craft Brew Alliance purchase

The world’s largest multinational brewery, AB InBev, has completed its acquisition of the Craft Brew Alliance more than 20 years after the companies became connected.

The global brewer announced that it was to acquire the remaining stake in Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) in November for $16.50 per share.

AB InBev will now purchase the remaining 68.8% of CBA that it doesn’t already own for about $220 million.

Widmer Brothers Brewery and Redhook Brewery, which are both owned by CBA, initially sold stakes in their businesses to AB InBev in 1995 to gain access to the brewer’s much larger distribution network.

AB InBev then acquired a 31.2% stake in CBA in January 2013.

In August 2019, it rejected a deal to buy CBA outright. The initial deal stated that by 23 August, AB InBev either had to buy CBA for US$24.50 per share, equating to around $500m, or make a $20m payment. It opted for the latter, and the merger was back on the cards by November.

CBA will form part of AB InBev’s craft beer portfolio, which currently includes brands such as Camden Town Brewery and Goose Island.

CBA chief executive Andy Thomas and chief financial officer Christine Perich have joined the multinational’s Brewers Collective business unit as general managers, overseeing 17 out of its 23 beer brands.

Based in Portland, Oregon and founded in 2008, the CBA is a collection of craft brewing brands including Kona Brewing, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Omission Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, Square Mile Cider Co., Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Wynwood Brewing Co. Beers produced by the group are available in all US states and in 30 countries around the world.

Though the deal was approved by shareholders in February, the Department of Justice in the US required the merger to be restructured to avoid violating competition laws.

But as part of the agreement, AB InBev agreed to divest Kona Brewing’s business in Hawaii to a start-up called PV Brewing Partners.

Makran Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the DOJ, said the original merger “would have significantly increased market concentration in Hawaii and eliminated the growing competition between ABI and CBA brands.”

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