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New Belgium Said To Be Seeking Buyer Amid Craft Beer Deal Frenzy

December 21, 2015

Amid a flurry of dealmaking in the booming craft beer industry, New Belgium Brewing Co. is reportedly seeking a buyer. The price tag for the Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium—long one of the leading craft players—would likely top $1 billion.

Late last week, Reuters reported that the employee-owned New Belgium is working with New York advisory firm Lazard Middle Market on a potential sale. In response to the story, New Belgium co-founder and board chair Kim Jordan issued a statement that read: “New Belgium Brewing’s Board of Directors has an obligation to have ongoing dialogue with the capital markets with the goal of making sure that we remain strong as leaders in the craft brewing industry.” Jordan, who stepped down as CEO in October but retains an active role as the company’s chairwoman, added that no deal is currently pending.

Led by flagship offering Fat Tire Amber Ale, New Belgium has become a craft brewing force in recent years and is currently the fourth-largest U.S. craft brewer, according to the Brewers Association. However, the brewer’s growth has slowed markedly of late.

In a recent interview with Shanken News Daily, Christine Perich—who replaced Jordan as CEO after a tenure as New Belgium’s president and COO—said that the craft brewer’s volume was on pace to fall by roughly 1.5% to 930,000 barrels in 2015. It would mark the first decline in New Belgium’s 25-year history.

“Last year, we grew substantially and it was semi-painful for us,” Perich told SND. “We’re at maximum capacity in Fort Collins, and we’re trying to get Asheville up and running. So we’ve been very thoughtful about how we manage volume this year.”

With the craft category surging, industry giants are angling for entry. Last month, Constellation Brands acquired San Diego’s Ballast Point for $1 billion, while in September Heineken purchased a 50% stake in Northern California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co. for a sum believed to be north of $500 million. The world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has also undertaken an aggressive acquisition strategy in the craft segment.

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