There was an understanding with Heineken from the start that a full sale could be the eventual outcome, he said.
“We won’t be driving the brand to be bigger, faster, sooner, we’ll just be working more channels on the planet,” Magee said. “I’m not growing fast in any one market, but slowly in 30 markets all at once around the world.”
With more than 5,000 breweries in the United States, the craft beer arms race has turned global. Among the most aggressive has been Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company, which has not only bought 10 craft breweries in the U.S., but craft breweries in England, Italy and Belgium. It also has aggressively expanded international distribution of Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co., the company’s first craft acquisition, which was bought in 2011. In recent months, Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched Goose Island properties in Brazil, South Korea, London, Mexico and Toronto.
In a press release issued Thursday, Jean-François van Boxmeer, Heineken CEO and chairman of the executive board, said, “Our partnership with Lagunitas has been a great success and today’s announcement marks the next stage of an exciting journey. We look forward to accelerating the roll-out of Lagunitas to many more markets, and sharing craft beer with many more beer lovers around the world.”
Lagunitas CEO Maria Stipp, who previously reported to Magee, will now report to Marc Busain, president of Heineken in the Americas. Three American craft breweries in which Lagunitas has bought a stake will continue to report to Stipp. Magee has said he intends to invest in more American craft breweries. Terms of the deal were not released, though the initial 50 percent sale was reportedly worth close to $500 million.