UK/Netherlands: BrewDog failed with partial sale to Heineken

BrewDog failed to sell part of the company to Heineken, according to leaked emails from 2018 published in a BBC documentary. That year, investment bankers representing BrewDog approached the Dutch brewing group to discuss a partial sale as an alternative to an IPO.

The BBC reported that BrewDog CEO James Watt met senior Heineken representatives, and later wrote to the then European president of Heineken, Stefan Orlowski, that Brewdog was "open to exploring potential strategic partnerships" and was also "open to being more pragmatic in our views on independence".

This news comes as a surprise as James Watt in the past often criticized other independent brewers like Lagunitas in 2015/2017 (, 6.5.2017) or Beavertown in 2018 (, 26.5.2018), accusing them of "selling out". The BBC also revealed that Watt bought in 2017about GBP 500,000 (USD 612,000) worth of shares in Heineken which were later sold again to help with negotiations about a potential distribution deal.

However, the BBC reported that Heineken walked away from the negotiations as James Watt “was so outrageous, in his price idea, that we said well this is going nowhere. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about."

It's not the first time the BBC has targeted James Watt in its investigations. In January, a documentary entitled “Disclosure: The Truth About BrewDog” aired on the BBC, leveled fierce allegations against the company's CEO. Watt allegedly tried to stop the broadcast by threatening the documentary's anonymous sources with suing them after their identity was reveiled. (, 21.1.2022)

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