Coors Quaffs Carling in $1.7bn Deal

27 December 2001

Colorado-headquartered brewing group Adolph Coors – the USA’s third largest with an 11% market share behind Anheuser-Busch (50%) and Miller (20%) – has inked a $1.7 billion (£1.2bn) contract to acquire best-selling UK beer brand Carling.

Accompanying Carling into US ownership are several other Bass beer and flavoured alcoholic brands including Grolsch (via a joint venture with Grolsch NV), Worthington, and Caffrey's. Says Coors’ chairman Peter H Coors: “The deal represents a strategic opportunity for Coors to participate in one of the world's largest beer markets.”

Carling, formerly the flagship brand of Britain’s Bass Brewers empire, was acquired alonmg with all Bass brewing assets by European beer giant Interbrew. But EC competition authorities demanded the brand’s disposal along with a number of others in a trade-off for approving the deal.

But it’s an ill wind that gives the entrail-rakers nothing to ulcerate over. “The brewer is under pressure in its home market from alternative drinks such as Smirnoff Ice,” agonized one analyst. “And the UK where Carling is the leading brand, is seen as a cash generative but crowded market. There is something of the last chance saloon scenario to this deal,” he fretted.

Other seers believe the transaction could stretch Coors, whose current market capitalisation of $2.2bn is only $500m more than the Bass brands’ price ticket.

News sources: Financial Times;