Coors swoops for brewer of Staropramen

City A.M. Reporter
NORTH American brewer Molson Coors beat close rival Asahi yesterday in the race to buy east European brewer StarBev from CVC Capital Partners for €2.65bn (£2.2bn), in what analysts said was a high-priced deal.

The sale process had narrowed to a two-horse race in the last week, but early front runner, Japan’s Asahi, had only been prepared to pay up to $3bn (£1.88bn) for the business, people close to the deal said.

Molson Coors, whose business is concentrated in the mature markets of the US, Canada and the UK, expects the deal to add to earnings in the first full year of ownership and give the brewer its first big business in emerging markets.

“The acquisition of StarBev fits squarely into Molson Coors’ strategy to increase our portfolio of premium brands and deepen our reach into growth markets around the world,” Molson Coors’ chief executive Peter Swinburn said in a statement.

The deal is valued at around 11 times StarBev’s core 2011 profit of €241m, from annual sales of around €700m. CVC, which bought StarBev in December 2009, put the business up for sale after approaches from a number of brewers. The private equity firm had bought the business from Anheuser-Busch InBev, calling it StarBev after its Czech beer Staropramen.