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UK. Owner of Woodchuck Cider Approves Sale to Irish Rival

The Irish beverage company C&C Group agreed on Tuesday to buy Vermont Hard Cider Company, the makers of Woodchuck Cider, for $305 million.

The deal is the latest in a flurry of recent acquisitions in the beverage industry, as giants like AnheuserBusch-InBev and Heineken search for new growth markets.

Under the terms of the deal announced on Tuesday, C&C, based in Dublin, will acquire Vermont Hard Cider, whose brands include Woodchuck Cider, the largest cider brand in the United States.

The deal will combine C&C’s own cider business, including brands like Magners, Bulmers and Gaymers, with those of Vermont Hard Cider, as C&C looks to expand its business in the United States.

“This transaction transforms our international cider business and accelerates our growth prospects,” C&C’s chief executive, Stephen Glancey, said in a statement.

Shares in the C&C Group rose 6 percent in morning trading in London on Tuesday.

Vermont Hard Cider, based in Middlebury, Vt., reported a pretax profit of $10 million last year, which is expected to increase 50 percent, to around $15 million, in 2012, according to a company statement.

The beverage industry is going through a round of consolidation. AnheuserBusch-InBev agreed this year to buy the share of Grupo Modelo that it did not already own for $20.1 billion. The Dutch beer giant Heineken also recently received shareholder approval to buy Asia Pacific Breweries of Singapore for around $4.6 billion.

C&C said it would finance the deal for Vermont Hard Cider through existing cash reserves and bank loan facilities. The deal is expected to close early next year.

18 Jan. 2013

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