Molson Coors sees US$12-billion deal for Miller brands as game-changing deal

Molson Coors sees US$12-billion deal for Miller brands as game-changing deal

MONTREAL — Molson Coors is poised to get worldwide control of the Miller brand name and ownership of its U.S. beer business in a US$12-billion agreement tied to the takeover of SABMiller by the world’s largest brewing company, Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“This transaction is a game-changing opportunity for Molson Coors and advances our ambition to be the first choice for consumers and customers,” Molson Coors president and CEO Mark Hunter said in a statement Tuesday from Denver and Montreal, where the company has dual headquarters.

“In short, we will be a more competitive global company, better positioned to invest behind our core brands, expand our above premium portfolio, strengthen our commercial execution capabilities and deliver long term shareholder value.”

SABMiller agreed to sell its 58 per cent stake in the MillerCoors joint venture, which is 42 per cent owned by Molson Coors, in an effort to ease regulatory concerns that AB InBev would have a stranglehold on the U.S. market after the merger.

AB InBev has reached a final agreement to buy SABMiller in a US$107-billion deal that will combine the world’s two biggest brewers and create a company that makes almost a third of the beer consumed worldwide.

AB InBev and SABMiller own hundreds of brands, including Budweiser, Corona, Grolsch, Stella Artois and Labatt, a formerly independent Canadian company.

In Canada, the beer market has long been dominated by Molson Coors and AB InBev, through its ownership of Labatt, although the two beer giants have increasingly been challenged by the popularity of smaller local craft brewers.

Last month, Labatt grabbed a larger stake in the craft beer market when it bought up Mill Street Brewery in Toronto for an undisclosed amount, its sixth acquisition of a North American craft brewer since 2011.

On Tuesday, Labatt announced a US$350-million deal with the Mark Anthony Group to buy the Canadian rights to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Okanagan Cider and ownership of the Turning Point Brewery in British Columbia, which brews Stanley Park beers.

Once that deal is finalized, which is expected to happen in the coming months, Labatt will have a bigger stake in both the growing pre-mixed drinks and ciders markets, which have been growing in popularity.

— with files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the MillerCoors joint venture was 48 per cent owned by Molson Coors.

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