I was in the process of drafting a post about the recently announced Lion Nathan/Kirin takeover of Little World (the folks who brew Little Creatures and White Rabbit), but my little brother meet me to it. So head to his always entertaining and insightful blog and read about it: It’s a Little World after all…
… OK, now that you’re back, I would add that this was a nice “long play” by Lion Nathan/Kirin given they had a ‘blocking’ shareholding in this growing firm from the outset (20% on formation, 35% since the IPO in 2005). This meant no rival brewer (i.e. Fosters, Coca Cola Amatil or Coopers) was going to get hold of this prospect without Lion getting a ‘right of reply’.
It was a very sensible ‘option’ to have taken on what has turned out to the most successful craftbrewer in Australia in terms of growth and brand awareness (Little World pitched themselves as the 5th biggest Aussie brewer in this document).
Lion does have a history with acquisitions of microbrewers, taking over Hahn back in 1993 (see here for a decent description of that move), which has evolved into James Squire.
And, Lion Nathan failed in a bid for Coopers a few years ago.
I agree with Leon that the biggest ‘kick’ that’ll come from this acquisition will be much greater reach for Little Creatures beers. I would not be surprised to see the brand become a real challenger to Coopers in the medium-term (and wallop SAB Miller’s/Matilda Bay’s Fat Yak along the way).
And, meanwhile,the Casella/Yellowtail beer (that I mentioned back here) is finally on the shelves, and the winemakers are talking very ambitiously (their brewery reportedly has the capacity to service 7% of the Aussie market – that’s more than Coopers!).
Maybe even macro-brewing might get interesting in Australia in the coming couple of years.