Lion Little World Beverages and New Belgium Brewing announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement for Lion Little World Beverages to acquire 100% of New Belgium in an all-cash transaction. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019, pending approvals by regulators and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in addition to other customary closing conditions.
New Belgium is a pioneer of world-class beer and wood-aged sours in the United States. Since the company was established in 1991, it has grown to become a leading craft brewer with adored brands, such as Fat Tire Amber Ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA, in addition to two state-of-the-art brewing facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado and Asheville, North Carolina, and a national distribution platform.
“We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into our global family of craft beverage brands. Since meeting the New Belgium team, we’ve been incredibly impressed not just with their commitment to world-class beer and the way they bring their brands to life, but their purpose-led business model and connection to the community – all values we share at Lion,” said Matt Tapper, Managing Director of Lion Little World Beverages.
“Our owner, Kirin, has entrusted Lion with leading its global craft beer strategy and [this] announcement is a real milestone for us. Over time, we see a great opportunity to work together with New Belgium Brewing to grow a wider portfolio of craft beverages in the U.S., and build on the great business that Kim, Steve and the entire New Belgium team have created.”
Kim Jordan, Co-Founder of New Belgium Brewing said in a public letter, “If there are three things we’re known for at New Belgium, it’s our dedication to innovation and excellence in beer, our commitment to the culture and wellbeing of our co-workers, and our crazy enthusiasm for being a business role model. We were thinking about these three things as we began to explore being a part of the Little World family.”
“We’ve been pushing the boundaries of beer innovation as pioneers for almost three decades. Little World 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.”
In that same letter, Kim Jordan confirmed that the company would no longer be employee owned, but that “[m]ore than 300 employees are receiving over $100,000 of retirement money with some receiving significantly greater amounts. Over the life of our ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), including this transaction, the total amount paid to current and former employees will be nearly $190 million.”
Lion Little World Beverages is committed to protecting and nurturing New Belgium’s unique identity, culture and brand as a leader in craft beer. 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 remain deeply involved with the company, and 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.