NEW YORK – Brewers Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP) and SABMiller PLC plan to combine their U.S. operations in a joint venture, which the makers of Miller Lite and Coors Light said should help them compete more effectively.
The new MillerCoors, announced Tuesday, will compete with U.S. industry leader Anheuser-Busch Cos. (BUD), maker of Budweiser, Michelob and Bud Light.
SABMiller will have a 58 percent economic interest in the venture and MolsonCoors will own 42 percent of the new company. They will have equal voting interests, however. Precise financial terms were not disclosed.
London-based SABMiller, which brews Miller Lite as well as a slew of European beers, and Molson Coors, the brewer of Coors Light and the craft beer Blue Moon, will each have five representatives on its board of directors.
Pete Coors, vice chairman of Molson Coors, will serve as chairman of the new company and Molson Coors Chief Executive Leo Kiely will be the new CEO of the joint venture. Tom Long, CEO of Miller, will be appointed president and chief commercial officer.
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies said they will conduct all of their U.S. business exclusively through the venture.
The companies project MillerCoors will have combined annual beer sales of 69 million U.S. barrels with revenue of about $6.6 billion.
Coors said the joint venture will allow both companies to compete for U.S. consumers who are "looking for greater choice and differentiation," as wine and spirits continue to entice beer drinkers and imports and craft beers garner a larger share of the market.
The companies said by combining their U.S. operations, the venture will be able to invest more in marketing its brands to consumers and compete more effectively with larger brewers like Anheuser-Busch and InBev NV S.A., which imports a large number of global beers into the U.S. and is the world's largest brewer by volume.
"Given the highly complementary nature of our U.S. assets, operations and geographic footprint, this is a logical and compelling combination that we expect will create significant value for shareholders while benefiting distributors, consumers, retailers and the market overall," said SABMiller Chief Executive Graham Mackay.
SABMiller shares rose 2.3 percent to 1,499 pence ($30.57) in midday trading in London.
The companies said the deal will add to both of their earnings in the second full year of combined operations.
Final approval of the deal is expected by the end of 2007, the companies said.