November 19, 2019

New Belgium Sold to Beer Conglomerate

In a letter released today, the founder of New Belgium Brewing, Kim Jordan, announced that the company, currently employee-owned and the fourth-largest craft brewer in the United States, would be acquired by Lion Little World Beverages, an Australia-based brewer that is itself a subsidiary of the Japanese beer company Kirin. In her letter, Jordan noted that the company has been working to strike a balance among the cash needed for the ESOP (especially repurchase), operations (such as the new plant in Asheville, NC), and marketing. 

Jordan wrote, "We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback.  But here’s another way to look at it. More than 300 employees are receiving over $100,000 of retirement money with some receiving significantly greater amounts.  Over the life of our ESOP, including this transaction, the total amount paid to current and former employees will be nearly $190 million.  We will have helped a significant number of people realize the upside of having equity in something, being a part of the American Dream!"

A separate press release notes that the all-cash transaction for 100% of New Belgium's shares is expected to be finalized before the end of the year, "pending approvals by regulators and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in addition to other customary closing conditions."

New Belgium has been prominent for years in the employee ownership world, with notable highlights including a keynote presentation featuring Kim Jordan at the 2013 NCEO annual conference, and it has served as a model and inspiration to other employee-owned companies.

See also our blog post "What Does the Sale of New Belgium Brewing Mean for Employee Ownership?"