Sale of Hawaii beer operation to clear way for acquisition

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Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 4:34 AM HST
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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the sale of the Hawaii operations of a beer company, which could clear the way for a related acquisition by Anheuser-Busch Inc.

Craft Brew Alliance agreed to sell Kona Brewing Co.'s Hawaii operations to PV Brewing Partners, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday.

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division approved the sale Friday to PV Brewing, a Delaware limited liability company with headquarters in Kansas.

The same day, the department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the $220 million merger of Craft Brew Alliance and Anheuser-Busch, which was announced in November.

The department also filed a proposed settlement, which would resolve the competitive harm alleged in the department’s lawsuit.

The antitrust complaint said Anheuser-Busch Companies' acquisition of Craft Brew Alliance likely would substantially reduce direct competition in Hawaii between Anheuser-Busch brands and Craft Brew Alliance’s Kona brand.

In 2010, Craft Brew Alliance completed an $18 million purchase of Kona Brewing, which opened in Kailua-Kona in 1994.

The Anheuser-Busch and Craft Brew Alliance transaction would have given the companies a combined share of about 41% of Hawaii beer’s market, the complaint said.

Without the merger, the companies would continue to invest and compete against each other for premium beer sales in the state, the Justice Department said.

The proposed settlement requires conditions enabling PV Brewing to compete, including the sale of Kona brewing facilities, a perpetual, exclusive license of the Kona brand in Hawaii and other interests.

The Kona brewing facilities include a 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) brewery under construction in Kailua-Kona with a 100,000-barrel capacity.

The arrangement does not include Craft Brew Alliance’s Kona business outside Hawaii.

The owners of PV Brewing include David Peacock, the former president of Anheuser-Busch, and VantEdge Partners, an investment firm based in Kansas City, Kansas.

Among other investments, VantEdge owns 260 restaurants, including Dunkin', Taco Bell and Jamba, and is part of the investment group that owns the Kansas City Royals baseball organization.

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