US sale off table as C&C pulls distribution deal

By Geoff Percival

Drinks group C&C has prematurely pulled the plug on its US distribution deal with brewer Pabst, firmly putting paid to any near-term sale of the Irish cider-maker’s American operations.

Pabst Brewing Company is the world’s largest American-owned brewer. It signed up as exclusive American distributor of C&C’s US cider brands and imported labels, such as Magners and Blackthorn in 2015.

Despite the deal including a long-term option for Pabst Brewing Company to buy C&C’s US assets, the Irish group poured cold water on that outcome last year — largely based on it writing down the value of its struggling US operations by €279m over two years.

C&C is chiefly known for its twin Bulmers/Magners cider brands and Tennent’s lager.

Yesterday, it announced the development, saying it was a mutual agreement which will have no material effect on C&C’s balance sheet.

C&C will continue to distribute Pabst Brewing Company’s products in the UK, but C&C’s wholly-owned north American subsidiary, the Vermont Hard Cider Company, will undertake all distribution work in the US.

It is understood that C&C is not looking to outsource its US distribution to another external source.

“Both parties recognise that current market dynamics require a different approach that concentrates on Vermont Hard Cider Company’s core markets,” C&C said.

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