Anheuser-Busch Buys Goose Island In Push For Craft Beers

on 28/03/11 at 9:04 pm

Beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V.’s (ABI.BT, BUD) U.S. unit agreed to buy craft brewer Fulton Street Brewery LLC, the maker of Goose Island brews such as Honkers Ale, for a total $38.8 million.

Anheuser-Busch, which already holds nearly half of the U.S. beer market with brands including Budweiser, Busch and Michelob, will pay $22.5 million to buy a 58% stake from the founders and other investors of the small Chicago-based brewer, whose varietals are sold mostly in the Midwest.

Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., which brews Red Hook, Kona and other beers, has the other 42% stake and agreed in principle to sell its holding to Anheuser-Busch for $16.3 million. Anheuser-Busch holds a 32.25% stake in Craft Brewers and, as part of the sale agreement, will provide additional retail selling support and reduce its distribution fees for Craft Brewers.

Anheuser-Busch has been Goose Island’s distribution partner since 2006.

Craft beers have been a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish U.S. beer market in recent years. Craft beers saw 11% volume growth in 2010, compared with a 1% decline for the broader beer industry, according to the Brewers Association, a craft industry trade group.

“Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers,” Goose Island Founder and President John Hall said. Hall will remain chief executive of the company after the deal’s completion, expected in the second quarter.

Goose Island sold about 127,000 barrels in 2010.

SOURCE: WSJ

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