NEW YORK (
will pay a combined $38.8 million to acquire Chicago-based craft brewer
Goose Island Beer
Anheuser-Busch InBev will pay $22.5 million for the 58% stake in Goose Island owned by the brewer's founders and other investors. The Belgian beer conglomerate will pay another $16.3 million to
Craft Brewer's Alliance
( HOOK), a craft brewer based in Portland, Oreg.
Anheuser-Busch InBev shares shed 1.6% to $56.58 at midday Monday. Craft Brewers Alliance soared 9% to $8.98.
As of Dec. 3, 2010, Anheuser-Busch InBev owned 32.25% of Craft Brewers Alliance shares. Craft Brewers' other beers include Widmer Brothers, RedHook Ale and Kona Brewing.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois beers, has distributed Goose Island beers, including its flagship Honkers Ale and 312 Urban Wheat Ale, since 2006. Goose Island has been operating since 1988.
"This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world ... will bring resources to brew more beer here in Chicago to reach more beer drinkers, while continuing our development of new beer styles," said Goose Island founder John Hall, president of Chicago's
Fulton Street Brewery
Hall will continue to serve as CEO of Goose Island operations.
Consolidation in the global beer industry is nothing new; a few years ago Belgium's Inbev bought out then-U.S. based Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and Michelob beers, for around $52 billion.
Rumors circulated earlier this year that Anheuser-Busch Inbev and
could be looking to merge.
Analysts from Credit Suisse recently noted that "SABMiller selling to ABI would provide SAB management and shareholders an obvious and desirable exit strategy for all involved. The idea of a merger we believe could be sold to both sets of shareholders."
A source close to the beer industry who spoke to
last month on condition of anonymity said that a deal of that kind would be easier said than done, and unlikely in the near- or semi-near future.
The source -- who requested anonymity because of close ties to potential parties involved -- said that in all likelihood, competition between the two will become fiercer rather than lighter, adding that a combination of the pair would control around 80% of the U.S. domestic beer market, which would raise alarms among antitrust regulators, further diminishing the probability of a merger.
SABMiller has been reportedly looking to acquire
and/or one of the Japanese brewers, the source added, and could be looking at other opportunities for acquisitions in China as well. London-based SABMiller could also acquire
, a brewer with which it already partners in U.S. operations.
On the subject of Craft Brewers Alliance or Sam Adams maker
, smaller U.S. craft brewers, as potential takeover targets -- a point that was under much speculation last summer -- the source told
a deal would be unlikely. The craft brewers are good businesses but wouldn't provide material impact to a brewing giant like SABMiller, the source added.
In other beer-related news, equities research analysts at
upgraded Anheuser-Busch shares last week to a buy rating, from neutral.
Earlier in March analysts at Zacks Investment Research reiterated a neutral rating on the stock.
-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.
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