Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands, Inc. have announced a revised agreement that establishes Crown Imports as the No. 3 producer and marketer of beer in the U.S. through a complete divestiture of Grupo Modelo’s U.S. business. The transaction establishes Crown as a fully owned entity of Constellation, and provides Constellation with independent brewing operations, Modelo’s full profit stream from all U.S. sales, and rights in perpetuity to the Grupo Modelo brands distributed by Crown in the U.S.
As part of AB InBev’s acquisition of the 50 percent of Grupo Modelo it does not already own, AB InBev has agreed to sell Compañía Cervecera de Coahuila, Grupo Modelo’s state-of-the-art brewery in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and grant perpetual brand licenses to Constellation for US$2.9 billion, subject to a post-closing adjustment. This price is based on an assumed 2012 EBITDA of US$310 million earned from manufacturing and licensing the Modelo brands for sale by the Crown joint venture, with an implied multiple of approximately 9 times. The sale of the brewery, which is located near the Texas border, would ensure independence of supply for Crown and provides Constellation with complete control of the production of the Modelo brands for marketing and distribution in the U.S.
AB InBev and Constellation have agreed to a three-year transition services agreement to ensure the smooth transition of the operation of the world-class brewery, which is fully self-sufficient, utilizes top-of-the-line technology and was built to be readily expanded to increase production capacity. During this three- year timeframe, Constellation plans to invest approximately US$400 million to expand the Piedras Negras facility, which will then enable it to supply 100 percent of Crown’s needs for the U.S. marketplace. Today, Piedras Negras fulfills approximately 60 percent of Crown’s current demand.
As previously announced on June 29, 2012, AB InBev has agreed to divest Grupo Modelo’s 50 percent stake in Crown, the joint venture between Modelo and Constellation, that currently imports and markets Modelo’s brands in the U.S., to Constellation. The transaction value remains US$1.85 billion, providing Constellation 100 percent ownership and control of Crown.
Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of AB InBev, commented, “The AB InBev and Grupo Modelo transaction has always been about Mexico and making Corona more global in all markets other than the U.S., where the brands will be owned and managed by Constellation. We are pleased to have reached this revised agreement that preserves the merits of the Grupo Modelo transaction while allowing us to move expeditiously to the Modelo integration process and the capture of approximately US$1 billion of synergies, up from our original estimate of US$600 million.”
Rob Sands, President and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation Brands, said, “The revised agreement with AB InBev will make Constellation’s Crown beer division a fully independent competitor and the third largest producer and marketer in the U.S. beer industry. This is a transformational acquisition for our company as we will hold perpetual rights to Corona and the Modelo brands distributed by Crown in the U.S. We will have autonomous control of production, distribution, marketing and promotion of these brands in the U.S. Bill Hackett, President of Crown, and his management team have decades of experience in the beer industry with the iconic Modelo brands. I am confident that all Constellation and Crown stakeholders, including our valued wholesalers, shareholders and employees will see the benefits of this amended agreement.”
Constellation’s Financing Arrangements
The combined purchase price for the remaining 50 percent interest in Crown and the Piedras Negras brewery and the perpetual brand licenses is approximately US$4.75 billion, subject to a post-closing adjustment. Constellation has fully committed bridge financing in place to complete these acquisition activities. Permanent financing is expected to consist of a combination of senior notes and term loans, with the remainder of the funding coming from the company’s existing revolving credit facility, accounts receivable securitization facility and available cash.
"Upon closing, this combined transaction is expected to increase Constellation’s debt to comparable basis EBITDA leverage to between 5 and 5.5 times when factoring in a full year of the additional Crown, brewery and brand EBITDA,” said Bob Ryder, Chief Financial Officer of Constellation Brands. “After funding this transformational transaction and planned capacity expansion for the brewery, the company expects to utilize its strong free cash flow to delever into its targeted 3 to 4 times leverage range as soon as possible.”
Crown as a Stronger Independent Competitor
Under the revised agreement, Crown would be a fully independent competitor in the U.S. with a Constellation owned state-of-the-art brewery fully supporting its growth. Constellation would also be granted an exclusive perpetual brand license for the import and distribution of Corona and the Modelo brands it currently sells, and the freedom to develop brand extensions and innovations in the U.S. Under the previous agreement announced in June 2012, AB InBev had the right, exercisable every 10 years, but not the obligation, to terminate the importer agreement with Crown. That provision has been removed in the revised agreement.
Constellation says it believes the revised agreement addresses all of the concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice in its lawsuit, leaving no doubt about Constellation’s Crown beer division’s complete independence and ability to compete.
Acquisition of Piedras Negras Brewery Provides Supply Independence for Crown
Constellation’s purchase of the Piedras Negras brewery provides it with complete control over production of Corona and the Modelo brands sold in the U.S. The brewery benefits from its proximity to the U.S., as well as a continuous, high quality water supply from a mountain aquifer. The approximately 600 employees at the Piedras Negras facility will continue to be employed at the brewery by their current employer.
The brewery currently produces Corona, Corona Light and Modelo Especial. The first phase of construction was completed in 2010 and the brewery is designed to be efficiently expanded up to 30 million hectoliters. AB InBev and Constellation have entered into a three-year interim supply agreement for beer production to ensure full supply to U.S. consumers and a smooth, operational transition in Piedras Negras for workers and suppliers.
Terms and Merits of Combination between AB InBev and Grupo Modelo Remain Unchanged
The sale of Grupo Modelo’s 50% stake in Crown is related to an agreement between AB InBev and Modelo, under which AB InBev will acquire the remaining stake in Modelo that it does not already own for US$9.15 per share in cash, plus the acquisition of a glass supplier, in a transaction valued at US$20.1 billion. These terms between AB InBev and Modelo remain unchanged.
AB InBev's combination with Grupo Modelo remains subject to the existing challenge by the U.S. Department of Justice. The revised agreement with Constellation remains conditioned on the completion of the Modelo transaction, as well as regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Mexico and other customary closing conditions.