Kirin’s Lion Little World Beverages to acquire US craft brewer New Belgium

USA – Lion Little World Beverages (LWB), the global craft beverages division of  Australasian brewer, Lion – which is part of Japanese beverage firm Kirin Holding – has secured a deal to acquire US craft beverage company New Belgium Brewing.

New Belgium, known for its Fat Tire Amber Ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA beers, is the fourth-largest independent brewery in the U.S., according to 2018 data from the Brewers Association.

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The brewery operates facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina and has distribution in all 50 states across US.

The acquisition will give Lion and parent company Kirin a significant foothold in the exploding US craft beer market, which has registered considerable growth in the number of breweries having multiplied more than four-fold to almost 7,500 in the past 10 years.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said: “We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into the Lion fold and take a significant step forward in the largest craft beer market in the world.

“We’re confident that our shared values and commitment to purpose and culture will provide the foundation for a great partnership in the US.

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“Kirin has entrusted Lion with leading its global craft beer strategy and today’s announcement is an important milestone for all of us as we look to drive growth in markets beyond Australia, New Zealand and Japan.”

Commenting on the transaction, Kim Jordan, Co-Founder of New Belgium Brewing added: “We’ve been pushing the boundaries of beer innovation as pioneers for almost three decades.

“Lion Little World Beverages are brewers’ brewers and we have really felt their commitment to this ancient craft.

“We’re absolutely excited about helping to build a collective of breweries – each with their own vibe – who share the same commitment to delighting beer drinkers with great beer, great businesses, and great collaboration among us.”

Lion Little World Beverages was first established as ‘Lion Global Markets’ in 2015 and entrusted with leading Kirin’s global craft beer strategy in new market expansion outside Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

It has since evolved, launching pioneering Australian craft brand Little Creatures in the US, UK and Asia between 2017 and 2019, and recently adding UK craft brands Fourpure and Magic Rock to the family. 

The brewer said it is committed to protecting and nurturing New Belgium’s unique identity, culture and brand as a leader in craft beer.

If the transaction is approved, New Belgium Brewing headquarters will remain in Fort Collins, Colorado and Steve Fechheimer will continue as Chief Executive Officer with the management team remaining in place.

Kim Jordan will also play a key advisory role in collaborating alongside other leading founders within the Lion Little World Beverages network ensuring the core tenets of craft beverages are aligned with the strategic vision for Lion Little World Beverages in the U.S. and around the world.

The deal is expected the transaction will close by the end of the year.

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