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4-2017

Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

Asian brewers, KKR-led investors vying for East Europe beer brands-sources

The brands, which include Pilsner Urquell in Czech Republic and Tyskie and Lech in Poland, are worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion).

Asian brewers Asahi Group and China Resources and a consortium of KKR and Mid Europa Partners are among several parties preparing bids for a group of beer brands being sold by Anheuser-Busch InBev, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The brands, which include Pilsner Urquell in Czech Republic and Tyskie and Lech in Poland, are worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion). They were offered for sale earlier this month as part of AB InBev's $100 billion-plus takeover of SABMiller, which recently closed.

The portfolio has also drawn interest from private equity firm Advent International, which in March raised a $13 billion fund, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Other parties looking at the assets but wanting to participate in a joint bid include U.S. buyout firm Bain Capital, Swiss investment firm Jacobs Holdings and London-based private equity house BC Partners, the sources said, as well as local investors.

Polish billionaire Sebastian Kulczyk told Reuters earlier this month that he may look to use some of the proceeds after the sale of his stake in SABMiller to buy the divested assets.

Polish juice maker Maspex has also expressed interest in the brands and is seeking other investors to contribute to a bid, the sources said.

AB InBev recently invited a host of parties to the auction, led by Lazard, the sources said, adding that the world's largest brewer wants indicative offers in early November, hoping to nail down a buyer by Christmas, the sources said.

They described Asahi as the most motivated buyer, since it wants to build on its purchase of Peroni and Grolsch, SABMiller's former brands in western Europe.

But state-owned China Resources, which bought out the Chinese joint venture with SABMiller, is also keen to submit a competitive bid, they said, and is holding talks with potential partners including Chinese investment firms.

The portfolio, which also includes beer brands in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, may fit into the new strategy of Hungarian oil and gas group Mol, which said last week that it wanted to diversify into new business areas including consumer goods, three of the sources said.

Officials for AB InBev, KKR, Advent, Bain, BC Partners and Mol declined to comment. Asahi, China Resources, Mid Europa and Jacobs could not be reached outside of normal working hours.

21 Oct. 2016

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