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Lion expands boutique footprint with Dunedin-based Emerson's acquisition

Tuesday 6th November 2012

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Lion, the Australasian brewer owned by Japanese beverages giant Kirin, has expanded its footprint in boutique ales by buying Dunedin-based Emerson's Brewing Co for an undisclosed sum.

The 20-year-old Emerson's brewery will operate as a standalone unit within Lion and retain its existing Dunedin brewery, the company said in a statement. Emerson's brewery can produce up to 1 million litres per year, according to its website.

Emerson's "complements Lion's existing beer portfolio well and allows us to offer our customers an enhanced proposition with a leading portfolio of brands across the specialty, boutique and popular craft market," NZ managing director Rory Glass said.

The purchase comes just four months after Lion bought out the 64 percent of Australian boutique brewer Little World Beverages in a A$256 million deal that saw the Fremantle-based company delisted from the ASX.

The Emerson's range of beer joins Lion's local line-up of brands including Speight's, Lion, Steinlager and Mac's.

Emerson's founder Richard Emerson, general manager Bob King and brewing manager Chris O'Leary will run the brewery's operation and all other roles will remain unchanged, the company said.

Lion's operating income fell 7.5 percent to A$440 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, with a 4.8 percent decline in sales to A$1.73 billion on falling revenue from its soft drink businesses.

The acquisition comes ahead of the local listing of boutique brewer Moa Group, which last week topped out its $16 million target from its initial public offering.

Moa needs the money to build a new $6.1 million brewing facility, and cover the $1.6 million cost of the float as it looks to break into the US$8.7 billion craft beer market in the United States and grab 0.02 percent of the market share.

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