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Labatt no longer Canadian-owned

The Story

Big news: Labatt, that most Canadian of beer companies, has just been bought by a large Belgian corporation. Interbrew is going to pay $2.7 billion for the Canadian beer company, according to this CBC Radio News clip. In addition to its breweries across Canada, Labatt also has some significant entertainment assets, including a few specialty TV channels and the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. Will Interbrew soon sell off these non-beer-related assets? 

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: June 6, 1995
Reporter: Michael Colton
Duration: 2:23

Did You know?

• Prior to the Interbrew purchase in 1995, a number of other companies were considering purchasing Labatt, which was judged to be a very attractive target because of its successful performance in the market. Rumours of potential bidders included Anheuser Bush and Carlsberg. Canadian company Onex Corp. launched a highly publicized but ultimately unsuccessful $2.3-billion bid to buy Labatt in 1995, just before the Interbrew deal was arranged.

• Belgium-based Interbrew traces its roots back to 1366. Its flagship brand is Stella Artois. During the 1990s, Interbrew embarked on a rapid international expansion program. Besides Labatt, Interbrew's other international acquisitions in the '90s included Oriental Breweries in South Korea, SUN Interbrew in Russia, Whitbread Beer Company in the United Kingdom and Diebels and Beck & Co. in Germany.

• Interbrew did sell off most of Labatt's sports and entertainment assets, including TV channels TSN and Discovery Channel, following the acquisition. As Interbrew spokesman Gerard Fauchey noted in a 1996 Maclean's article: "It's very simple. We're brewers, not managers of hockey or baseball teams or television stations." It took several years for Interbrew to sell off the Blue Jays, however - it sold 80 per cent ownership of the team to Rogers Communications in 2000. Interbrew maintained 20 per cent interest in the team.

• Canada's remaining huge brewer has tried to extend its international reach as well. Molson acquired Brazil's Cervejarias Kaiser in 2002. However, reports say this has not been a great move for Molson - the Brazilian brewery's sales performance has reportedly been extremely poor.



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