New Belgium Brewing Announces Sale to Little Lion World Beverages

The company will no longer be employee-owned

New Belgium Brewing Announces Sale to Little Lion World Beverages
By Bonnie Stiernberg / November 19, 2019 6:40 pm

After almost three decades in the craft beer business, New Belgium Brewing announced on Tuesday (Nov. 19) that it will no longer be employee-owned, selling to Australian-based Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings Company Limited.

The brewery — currently Colorado’s largest craft brewery and the fourth-largest in the US — will be sold for an undisclosed amount pending approval by employee stock holders. As founder Kim Jordan wrote in an open letter on New Belgium’s website, more than 300 of the company’s employee-owners are slated to make $100,000 in retirement money from the deal, “with some receiving significantly greater amounts.”

“We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback,” she wrote. “But here’s another way to look at it … Over the life of our [employee stock ownership plan], 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!”

Jordan will stay on with the company under its new ownership. Little Lion World’s Matt Tapper told the Denver Post that the Australian brand hopes New Belgium will help grow its presence in the United States. “This investment in New Belgium … is a pretty significant stake in the ground in terms of the U.S.,” he said. “We sort of aspire to, over time, work with the New Belgium team to establish a pretty significant craft beverage business.”

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