For more than a decade, the beer buzz said that Detroit-based Stroh Brewery wanted to buy G. Heileman Brewing, the Wisconsin maker of Old Style and Pink Champale. Stroh CEO William Henry had watched this prize change hands three times since joining the company in 1981. Henry slaked his thirst on Feb. 29 by agreeing to buy Heileman for close to $300 million. The deal gives No.4 Stroh more than 9% of the beer market. But hold the toasts: Both Stroh and Heileman saw volume decline in 1995. Henry figures the two brewers are a good fit, and he may be able to cut some overlap. A former Ford bean counter, Henry has been adding fizz to Stroh's performance since he became president in 1991. Stroh ships beer all over the world, and at home, where young drinkers favor pricey microbrews, Stroh brews ale under contract for the likes of Samuel Adams. Stroh's own brands are in the so-called subpremium segment, where profits are just that. Now, Henry has some new brews he can play with.
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