Molson Coors has sold its majority stake in Brazilian brewing unit Kaiser to Mexican drinks group FEMSA for US$68m, a significant loss to the price it paid for the struggling business under four years ago.

Canadian brewer Molson bought Kaiser for US$765m, selling a 20% stake to Heineken for US$220m. Since Molson's merger with Coors last February, the company has been reviewing its options on Kaiser, which has been beset by falling sales and has been overtaken as the country's second-largest brewer.

Under the deal with FEMSA, Molson Coors will retain a 15% stake in Kaiser and have one seat on its board. Heineken will still hold a 17% stake in the business.

Molson Coors president and CEO Leo Kiely said yesterday (16 January): "The transaction allows us to focus on our biggest markets and to continue to deliver the cost synergies and other benefits related to the Molson Coors merger. It also represents a winning proposition for Kaiser in Brazil, as it further aligns branding, production, selling and distribution operations."

FEMSA, the largest distributor of Kaiser products in Brazil, will also assume the company's debt of around US$60m.

Jose Antonio Fernandez, FEMSA's chairman and CEO, called the deal a "unique opportunity" to enter the Brazilian market but admitted turning around the business would be a "challenge".

He added: "There is much to be done to return the business to a path of profitable growth. The success of Coca-Cola FEMSA in turning around its Sao Paulo operations, combined with our expertise in competing in the Mexican beer market for over a century, give us confidence that we will be successful in this endeavour."

Kiely said Molson Coors continued to see "upside" in the Kaiser business, adding that the world's fifth-largest brewer might still have a presence in the fast-growing Brazilian market with a possible launch of Coors Light.