Spain's Mahou-San Miguel Said to Consider Buying Stake in Anchor

  • Spanish brewer may invest up to $300 million in Anchor Brewers
  • Faster-growing craft beer brands have become coveted assets

A worker stirs hops at Anchor Brewery.

Source: Anchor Brewery

Mahou-San Miguel Group, a closely held Spanish brewer, is considering buying a minority stake in Anchor Brewers & Distillers of the U.S. to expand its presence in the craft beer market, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mahou-San Miguel could invest as much as $300 million in Anchor Brewers, the San Francisco-based owner of Anchor Steam beer, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No decision has been made and Madrid-based Mahou could still decide against the purchase and look for other opportunities to grow in the U.S., the people said.

A spokeswoman for Mahou-San Miguel said the company has an interest in expanding in the craft beer market in the U.S. as shown by its acquisition of a 30 percent stake in Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Founders Brewing Co. last year. She declined to comment on a possible investment in Anchor. Representatives for Anchor didn’t immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Coveted Assets

Craft beer brands in the U.S. and U.K. have become coveted assets as growth in mainstream suds has ebbed. Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has acquired three independent brewers in just the past week, while Dutch brewer Heineken NV purchased a 50 percent stake in California craft brewer Lagunitas in September. London’s Meantime Brewing Co., bought by SABMiller Plc in May, is up for sale.

Mahou-San Miguel is also among possible bidders for SABMiller’s European beer brands Peroni and Grolsch, people familiar with the matter have said. Selling the SABMiller assets, which include Meantime, would smooth AB InBev’s takeover of the brewer by helping to clear antitrust hurdles in Europe. AB InBev is selling assets around the globe to head off potential regulatory issues for the 73 billion-pound ($109 billion) deal, dubbed “Megabrew,” that would combine the world’s two largest brewers.

Anchor traces its roots back to 1871, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle bought a San Francisco saloon and transformed it into a brewery that would later be renamed Anchor. Fritz Maytag, great-grandson of the founder of appliance maker Maytag Corp., bought the business in 1965, and in 2010 sold it to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio.

In 2014, U.S. craft beer volume grew almost 18 percent compared with a 0.5 percent gain for the total beer market, according to the Brewers Association, a craft-beer industry group based in Boulder, Colorado.

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