Lagunitas sells 50 percent stake to Heineken
For two decades and counting, Lagunitas Brewing Company has enjoyed a reputation as one of California’s largest and most well known premier craft breweries—and with the construction of a third brewing facility in Azusa now underway, the company has been growing rapidly and attracting a lot of attention along the way. Now the central California brewing company is growing again in an unexpected direction, crossing over into the mainstream brewing world to join forces with one of the Big Four: this week Heineken announced that it has acquired a 50 percent shareholding stake in Lagunitas.
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Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller have been active in absorbing craft breweries into their portfolios, but this represents Heineken’s first foray into the United States craft beer market, and the macro brewery is excited about this deal’s potential to “build a strong foothold in the dynamic craft brewing category on a global scale.” In the press release issued by Heineken on Tuesday, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board Jean-François van Boxmeer commented:
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It isn’t hard to see why the Netherlands-based brewing company targeted Lagunitas as a partner. As Heineken outlined in its press release, Lagunitas enjoyed a 58 percent compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2014, which will only grow further with the impending launch of its third facility. The company has already demonstrated global potential through successful launches in Canada, the UK, Sweden and Japan. IPAs are hot right now worldwide, and Lagunitas is at the heart of that movement with some of the most successful craft pale ales and IPAs on the market—partnering with Lagunitas places Heineken right where it wants to be, with a strong stake in the craft beer and IPA market share right out of the gate.
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Lagunitas also has reasons for selling this significant stake to Heineken—the funding that Heineken can provide will enable the company to maximize its global growth and spread the craft beer gospel worldwide. Lagunitas founder Tony Magee, who will continue to operate Lagunitas and maintain his position along with his current executive team, gave an official comment:
He also posted an expansive and reflective essay to Tumblr, quoting philosophers like Nietzsche and Heraclitus to help further explain his thought process behind the controversial deal. While more esoteric and personal, the sentiment is largely the same as the official press release statement: Lagunitas is on a mission to “export the exciting vibe of American craft beer globally,” and Heineken is willing to help them do it. What’s more, Magee explains, that 50 percent stake (as opposed to a full acquisition) shows that they are willing to help in a way that may be less problematic and more beneficial overall for the evolving craft beer industry:
Heineken did not disclose the financial details for this deal; it is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2015.