Cannabis firm Tilray buying 8 Anheuser-Busch beverage brands for $85 million

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Image of a marijuana leaf atop beverage cans

(Photo by bukhta79/stock.adobe.com)

(This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. ET with comments and stock-price information.)

Canadian cannabis producer Tilray Brands is adding to its alcohol portfolio with the acquisition of eight beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch, including Breckenridge and Shock Top breweries, a cider maker and an energy seltzer.

Tilray, already one of the largest craft brewers in the United States, will pay the equivalent of $85 million in cash for the brands, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The all-cash purchase, announced Monday, includes current employees, breweries and brewpubs associated with the various brands.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of September, Tilray said in its securities filing.

The eight beverage brands – which include well-known craft brewers – are:

  • Blue Point Brewing Co.
  • Breckenridge Brewery.
  • Redhook Brewery.
  • Shock Top.
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co.
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing.
  • Hiball Energy.
  • Square Mile Cider Co.

The new brands will join an already large portfolio of U.S. craft brewers.

With Alpine Beer Co. and Green Flash Brewing Co., Montauk Brewing Co. and SweetWater Brewing Co. already under the Tilray umbrella, the operator ranked No. 9 on the Brewers Association’s annual list of the country’s top craft companies in 2022.

After the deal closes with Anheuser-Busch, Tilray said it will triple its beer sales volume and will be ranked fifth among U.S. craft brewers with a 5% market share, according to a news release.

Bart Watson, chief economist at the Colorado-headquartered Brewers Association, said that, by his estimation, Tilray might actually rank fourth.

He also confirmed that the brands will once again fall under the craft beer category after losing that status under the Anheuser-Busch umbrella.

“Being owned by a cannabis company doesn’t bring the same advantages that being owned by a large brewer would, such as access to larger scale production facilities, raw material purchasing, or influence at distribution and retail,” he told MJBizDaily via email.

Tilray CEO Irwin Simon said in a statement that the acquisition “both solidifies our national leadership position and share in the U.S. craft brewing market and marks a major step forward in our diversification strategy.”

Looking ahead, he signaled that the company has an eye on the THC beverage market in the U.S.

“Upon federal cannabis legalization,” Simon said, “we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximize all commercial opportunities.”

Tilray also owns Breckenridge Distillery and Happy Flower CBD sparkling nonalcoholic cocktails.

The price of shares of Tilray – which has offices in Leamington, Ontario, and New York – rose sharply in response to the news of the acquisitions.

On the Nasdaq, the price was up by more than 30% as of 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange , share prices were up by nearly 25%.

Tilray has been criticized for diversifying its portfolio by acquiring non-cannabis brands in recent years, Owen Bennett, the senior vice president of equity research at Toronto-based financial services firm Jefferies, wrote in his newsletter on Monday.

But he gave the company a “buy” rating and said the acquisition will have long-term benefits.

“At the end of the day, as long as its business creates value for shareholders and has a clear articulated strategy that is executes on, that is all that should matter,” Bennett wrote.

Kate Robertson can be reached at kate.robertson@mjbizdaily.com.