Lion has acquired the entire Fermentum Family of Businesses, including Stone & Wood, Two Birds, Fixation, Little Dragon and Sunly Seltzer.
The Sydney Morning Herald suggests it is “one of the largest-ever craft beer acquisitions in the country” and the Australian Financial Review has suggested that the deal is worth more than $500 million. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, the process for which has commenced.
Lion Australia’s Managing Director James Brindley said, “We have huge respect for what Jamie Cook, Brad Rogers, Ross Jurisich and the team have created; great beer, wonderful brands, spiritual homes in their breweries and tap rooms, an inclusive culture and a commitment to the community.
“We want to grow what they’ve started, giving their people and beers even more reach across the country.”
Fermentum was started in 2008 by Mr Cook, Mr Rogers and Mr Jurisich (pictured at the time). Mr Cook, Co-founder and Chairman said a combination of timing and finding the right custodian to take the business forward made this the natural next step for Fermentum.
“We only looked for a custodian who would be committed to building the brewery and to support our work in the community,” he said.
“Not only did Lion welcome these ideas with enthusiasm, they demonstrated they have similar values and a focus on Environmental and Social Governance aligned to our “Force for Good” approach.”
Mr Brindley concurred: “We have a shared vision of ‘Brewing as a Force for Good’. Lion is Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewer and we will be backing the Stone & Wood, Two Birds and Fixation breweries to go carbon neutral as well. There are a lot of areas where we can learn from each other.”
Lion will continue Fermentum’s commitment to the Northern Rivers community, and building a new brewery in Murwillumbah is just one facet of that commitment. In June, Fermentum called in advisors to help raise $50m for the project and $100m to fund its portfolio expansion.
Mr Cook said the group had been exploring options for future growth and decided to ” test the waters” on whether the timing was right to find a custodian to grow Fermentum’s legacy. For the co-founders, this included staying true to its purpose and preserving Fermentum’s unique culture, people and brands.
“Lion’s custodianship of Little Creatures, Four Pillars and New Belgium demonstrates they in fact learn from new businesses, and grow their impact and reach,” said Mr Cook.
After reaching one per cent of the national beer market in a decade, Lion believes that Fermentum’s next chapter will see the business’ full growth potential realised.