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FREE TO READ - just-drinks' Mergers & Acquisitions database - July 2019

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Here, a little later than usual, just-drinks consolidates the M&A activity in the global drinks industry during July, with Molson Coors' European exploits and Pernod Ricard's Myanmar adventure both overshadowed by Anheuser-Busch InBev's decision to offload its Australian operations to Asahi Group.

Beer

Isle of Skye Brewing Co has bought bottler and fellow Scottish craft brewer Black Wolf Brewery for an undisclosed sum. Under the terms of the acquisition, from Boë Gin-owner VC2 Brands, Black Wolf will continue to operate as a standalone unit and bottle for other brands.

ZX Ventures, the incubator unit of Anheuser-Busch, has closed off the week with another purchase, this time of UK online craft beer subscription service Beer Bods. The start-up, which claims to have "several thousand" subscribers in the country, has been sold to ZX Ventures' recently-acquired Beer Hawk, also a UK-based online beer retailer.

Melbourne-based East 9th has bought fellow Australian independent brewer Sample Brew, which went into administration two months ago. East 9th Brewing took over Sample Brew with immediate effect.

Molson Coors has bought London craft brewer Hop Stuff Brewery and Taprooms. The deal sees Molson join the expanding list of international brewers with a presence in London.

Molson Coors has acquired a majority stake in Czech brewer Pardubicky as the US-based company expands its Central European portfolio. The purchase, through Molson's Staropramen subsidiary, took place in June and gives the brewer an 89% share in Pardubicky.

In the same month that the brewer's proposed flotation in Asia-Pacific collapsed, Anheuser-Busch Inbev has agreed the sale of its Carlton & United Breweries unit in Australia to Asahi Group Holdings. The divestment marks a reunion of sorts, as CUB, formerly owned by SABMiller, joins up again with the Grolsch and Peroni Nastro Azzuro beer brands, acquired by Asahi from A-B InBev following the latter's purchase of SAB in late-2016.

Groans turn to cheers as Anheuser-Busch InBev divestment brings Australian sunshine - Analysis

The velveted brickbats were flying earlier in the week after Anheuser-Busch InBev pulled the plug on its Asia-Pacific IPO. "A rare misstep," said Bernstein. "The signal is pretty bad," added AlphaValue. Those groans turned into a collective "A-ha!" today, as A-B InBev announced it will sell its Australian Carlton & United Breweries unit to Asahi.

Soft drinks

Jones Soda is to launch CBD beverages after taking in US$9m from hemp group HeavenlyRx. The sale, in exchange for 25% of the Seattle-based soft drinks firm's shares, includes an option for HeavenlyRx to increase its stake to 39% at a later date. 

Raylex Brands, the owner of Simplee Aloe, has bought fellow UK beverage company Wow Drinks. The deal, for an undisclosed seven-figure sum, hands Raylex control of Wow Drinks' portfolio of cold-pressed juices.

How soft drinks can tap into meal delivery revolution - Comment

This month, soft drinks columnist Lucy Britner turns her attention to takeaways. As the trend towards convenience and frictionless delivery continues, where do soft drinks fit in?

Spirits

Pernod Ricard has completed the formation of its Myanmar spirits joint-venture. The partnership, first announced last year, sees Pernod begin operations in Myanmar with existing joint-venture Access Myanmar Distribution Co.

Campari Group has made a move for rhum agricole producer Bellonnie & Bourdillon Successeurs (BBS), owner of the Martinique brands Trois Rivières and La Mauny. The Italian spirits and aperitif group has entered into exclusive negotiations for Rhumantilles, which owns 97% of BBS.

Constellation Brands has added a holding in Montanya Distillers to its list of craft spirits purchases in the US. Colorado-based Montanya confirmed that Constellation has acquired an unspecified, minority stake in the company.

Pernod Ricard has agreed to take a majority stake in South African gin distiller Inverroche. The French spirits group said Inverroche is a leading South African craft spirit brand based in the Cape Floral region.

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Wine

Anheuser-Busch InBev has expanded its non-beer portfolio with the full takeover of Babe canned rosé owner Swish Beverages. The group, which bought an initial stake in US-based Swish last year, made the purchase last week through its ZX Ventures incubator unit. 

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Distribution

Cellar Trends is now a fully-owned division of SPI Group after subsidiary Amber Beverage Group mopped up the remaining 30% of the UK alcohol distributor. Amber acquired Cellar Trends outright, a year after upping its ownership to 70%.

Portuguese wine group Sogrape is to take majority control of Liberty Wines, with the Heidsieck Champagne business also investing in the UK distributor. Sogrape will take an unspecified controlling stake, the privately-owned company announced at the start of the month.

Reyes Beverage Group is to buy DBI Beverage, a beer distributor covering northern California. The deal, set to close in September, will add DBI's 28m-cases-a-year to Reyes subsidiary Harbor Distributing.

Diageo has moved a step closer to securing a licensing deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev for its RTD and Guinness brands in South Africa. Competition authorities in the country gave conditional approval to the tie-up, which would see A-B InBev distribute and market Diageo's Smirnoff RTD portfolio and Guinness Stout under a licensing agreement.

On-premise

Stonegate Pub Co is set to become the UK's largest pub owner after it moved to buy Be at One and Walkabout owner Ei Group in a deal worth GBP1.3bn (US$1.6bn). If the purchase completes, Stonegate would take over Ei's approximately 4,000 sites across the UK.

Why we all need to lift our heads out of our drinks - Consumer Trends

It can be very easy for those working in the drinks industry to forever be in search of the new. We're all guilty of it - marketers, tastemakers, even journalists. What can result is a churn of trends and a lot of white noise that obscures the bigger picture stories of what consumers are actually enjoying, both in the on-premise and at home.


Expert Analysis

Key Trends in Alcoholic Beverages: Powerful changes shaping the wine, beer, spirits and alcohol-free beverages industry

Key Trends in Alcoholic Beverages: Powerful changes shaping the wine, beer, spirits and alcohol-free beverages industry

Key Trends in Alcoholic Beverages: Powerful changes shaping the wine, beer, spirits and alcohol-free beverages industry...

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