US craft beer pioneer New Belgium Brewing has joined Lion’s craft beverages division.
New Belgium Brewing was established in 1991 and has grown to become a leading craft brewer, with brands such as Fat Tire Amber Ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA. It also has two state-of-the-art brewing facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado and Asheville, North Carolina, and a national distribution platform.
The brewery becomes part of Lion Little World Beverages (LWB), the global craft beverages business of Lion. Its portfolio includes brands such as James Squire, Little Creatures, Emerson’s, and Panhead.
Lion and parent company Kirin have a significant craft beer portfolio outside the US, but until now have had a limited presence in the domestic US craft beer market.
“We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into the Lion fold and take a significant step forward in the largest craft beer market in the world,” said Lion CEO Stuart Irvine. “We’re confident that our shared values and commitment to purpose and culture will provide the foundation for a great partnership in the US.
“Kirin has entrusted Lion with leading its global craft beer strategy and today’s announcement is an important milestone for all of us as we look to drive growth in markets beyond Australia, New Zealand and Japan.”
Specific financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but according to Forbes, sources with knowledge of the deal said LWB would spend between $350 and $400 million to acquire the fourth-largest craft brewery in the US.
Kim Jordan, Co-Founder of New Belgium Brewing said: “If there are three things we’re known for at New Belgium, it’s our dedication to innovation and excellence in beer, our commitment to the culture and wellbeing of our co-workers and our crazy enthusiasm for being a business role model. We were thinking about these three things as we began to explore being a part of the Little World Beverages family.”
“We’ve been pushing the boundaries of beer innovation as pioneers for almost three decades. Lion Little World Beverages are brewers’ brewers and we have really felt their commitment to this ancient craft.
“We’re absolutely excited about helping to build a collective of breweries – each with their own vibe – who share the same commitment to delighting beer drinkers with great beer, great businesses, and great collaboration among us.”
Lion said it was committed to protecting and nurturing New Belgium’s unique identity, culture and brand as a leader in craft beer. New Belgium Brewing headquarters will remain in Fort Collins, Colorado and Steve Fechheimer will continue as Chief Executive Officer with the management team remaining in place.
Kim Jordan will also play a key advisory role in collaborating alongside other founders within the Lion Little World Beverages network.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019, pending approvals by regulators and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in addition to other customary closing conditions.