The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today cleared the way for Lion’s acquisition of Fermentum Group, the firm behind the successful craft brewer Stone & Wood from Byron Bay, New South Wales, andMelbourne’s Two Birds Brewing Co.
Two months ago Australian brewing group Lion, owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings, announced to assume total ownership of Fermentum Group. (inside.beer, 9.9.2021) The sales price was reported as AUD 500 million (USD 370m).
However, the deal was subject to regulatory approvals and “the ACCC initially had concerns as Fermentum is a large and popular independent supplier of craft beer, with plans to expand its brewing capacity,” the ACCC said in a statement today. “Fermentum, through its Stone & Wood beer brand, and Lion, through its James Squire and Little Creatures beer brands (amongst others), both supply craft beer,” the agency added.
But the ACCC also indicated that Fermentum’s products did not closely compete with those of Lion and that “market feedback indicated they are not close competitors. Asahi/CUB’s craft beer brands and other independent breweries were considered closer competitors to Fermentum than Lion.”
In addition, “the proposed acquisition may make Stone & Wood draught taps contestable for independent breweries, which may further lower barriers to expansion. Industry participants expect that consumer demand for independent craft beer will continue to grow, and licensed premises, particularly those in metropolitan areas, will continue to reserve taps for independent brewers,” the statement reads.
The ACCC also considered that the proposed acquisition did not raise competition concerns for the supply of cider, seltzer or kombucha as the level of aggregation between Lion and Fermentum is not significant.