Anheuser-Busch Raises Bet on Craft Beers

The world’s biggest brewer will buy out Craft Brew Alliance, the owner of Kona Brewing, in its second craft acquisition this year.
Matthew HellerNovember 12, 2019
Anheuser-Busch Raises Bet on Craft Beers

Anheuser-Busch is expanding its push into craft beers by buying out Craft Brew Alliance in a deal that values the owner of Kona Brewing at about $321 million.

CBA, whose brands also include Omission Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery and Cisco Brewer, is the nation’s 12th-largest brewer, producing more than 719,000 barrels last year. Kona, known as the “Corona of crafts,” accounted for more than 450,000 barrels.

Under the terms of the deal announced Monday, Anheuser-Busch will pay $16.50 per share for the 68.8 percent of CBA it doesn’t already own. It passed on a deal priced at $24.50 per share in August.

“CBA’s diverse portfolio of regional breweries and innovative lifestyle brands is an excellent complement to our family of craft partners and would continue to help fuel the growth of the craft beer category,” Marcelo “Mika” Michaelis, president of A-B’s Brewers Collective of craft partners, said in a news release.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “The world’s biggest brewer has seen declining sales by volume for years in the U.S., its largest market, as Americans shirk mainstream lagers in favor of craft beers, spirits and nonalcoholic drinks. In response, AB InBev has tried to sell pricier beers in developed markets and is pushing deeper into emerging markets by introducing new affordable brews.”

After making its first craft beer acquisition in 2011, A-B bought 11 craft brewers between 2014 and 2017 and purchased Platform Beer earlier this year. “In the last three years alone, A-B has invested more than $130 million in its craft partners, allowing them to expand their production volume by an average of 31 percent,” the company said.

Craft beer sales grew 4% in the U.S. in the first half of 2019, according to the Brewers Association.

“With production capacity of around 855,000 barrels, [CBA] would undoubtedly be one of Anheuser-Busch’s biggest craft brewers and would let it enjoy the full benefit of its turnaround and not have to settle for just a small part of it,” The Motley Fool said.