USA: Speculations about a possible tie-up of Heineken and Molson Coors

After the mega-merger of AB InBev and SABMiller speculations about the need for a further consolidation of the global brewing industries have evolved. One of the most likely options is a tie-up of the world’s No. 2 brewer Heineken with No. 5 Molson Coors. Both companies are family dominated and would complement each other very well.

Peter (“Pete”) Coors, Vice Chairman of the Molson Coors Boardwas asked during a conference last week in San Diego/California about a possible cooperation of the two companies. His answer was: "The Heineken family is a great family and we have business relationships with them in other places around the world." For most observers a denial could have sounded differently.

And what about Heineken? Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the ExecutiveBoard and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Heineken International recently said in an interview with Institutional Investor:  “Family control is here to stay and I am comfortable with that. You can be a superb growing company and a family company. Peter Coors and Eric Molson’s families control the votes of Molson Coors Brewing Company. It’s not the case at Anheuser-Busch, where the Busch family does not have majority control.” This sounds very much like Pete Coors.

The purchase and split-up of SABMiller’s brewing business last year has shaped a new picture of the industry. Clear leader remains AB InBev (Belgium) followed by Heineken (Netherlands) and Carlsberg (Denmark). Next comes China Resources Breweries (China, Snow Beer) and Molson Coors (Canada, USA), which overtook last year Tsingtao Brewery Group (China).

Molson Coors was formed in 2005 by the merger of two of the oldest and most prestigious family owned brewing companies in North America., Molson of Canada, and Coors of the United States. With the acquisition of AB InBev’s former East European brewing activities in 2012 it became one of the largest brewing companies in the world. Last year marked another important year of the group when Molson Coors Brewing Co. was able to buy the remaining 58% interest in the joint venture MillerCoors LLC in a $12 billion acquisition, which made it the second-largest brewer in the US with a 25% market share compared with AB InBevs 44%. Since June 3, 2015. Geoff Molson, seventh-generation successor in the Canadian brewing dynasty, assumes the role of Chairman in the company. He succeeded Pete Coors, great-grandson of American brewery founder Adolph Coors who holds now the office of vice chairman, in a planned transition consistent with the company's by-laws.

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