Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, has entered into an agreement with British brewer Greene King….It’s an almost £3 billion deal that will the UK’s pub and brewing landscape considerably.
Here’s the deal…
According to the Financial Times Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man and the owner of property developer CK Asset, has reached an agreement to buy Greene King, a Suffolk-based brewer that owns 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country making it the UK’s biggest pub owner.
To understand the importance of this pending acquisition one only has to look to the traditional pub and brewery distribution system in the United Kingdom, where large pub chains serve as outlets for company sanctioned beer that is served chain wide.
Breweries such as Greene King have opted to cut out the middleman and build their own network of pubs that cater almost exclusively to their brand… Completing a seamless distribution network, controlled entirely by one company, where its breweries directly fuel its own pub operations.
Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie explained to the Financial Times that CK Asset, “understand the strengths of our business and we welcome their commitment to working with the existing management team, evolving the strategy and investing in the business to ensure its continued long-term growth.”
But CAMRA, who advocate on behalf of The UK pub industry as part of their commitment Real Ale, struck a less positive tone over the Hong Kong billionaire’s impending takeover of the United Kingdom’s biggest pub owner.
In a statement, CAMRA National Chairman, Nik Antona, said: “The news that Britain’s largest pub and brewery company has been sold to an international asset company is very concerning for our beer scene.”
This is not the first Asian acquisition of a British brewery…Earlier this year Fuller’s sold its brewing operation (though not the pub arm) to Japan’s Asahi brewing group for £250m.