Little Creatures to be taken over by giant Lion

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th June 2012

Perth-based brewer Little World Beverages (LWB), the owner of craft beer brands Little Creatures and White Rabbit, is now valued at more than $380 million after a foreign takeover offer by Japanese-owned Lion.

Little Creatures, started in Perth in 2000 by three budding brewers, last year reported revenue of $70 million. Lion, a subsidiary of Japanese brewer Kirin, headquartered in Sydney, already has a 36% stake in LWB. The Lion bid will be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. LWB shareholders are expected to vote on the deal in September. LWB is listed in the Australian stock-exchange.

Kirin’s latest acquisition follows less than a year since competitor SABMiller’s $12.3 billion takeover Australia’s biggest beer brand Foster’s, last year.

In an interview with Australian Food News this morning, Little Creatures representative Jason Markwart said, “I have absolutely no concerns about lack of variety in the Australian beer industry. There is an awful lot of innovation in the craft sector, and this is consumer-driven; people are looking for new and different, local options.”

Mr Markwart acknowledged that Casella Wines’ recent diversification into beer is a sign of Australia’s thriving craft beer industry. “There has been a move away from mainstream beers and towards local craft and premium imported beers. People are drinking less, but choosing to drink better beer,” he said.

When asked whether he had any concerns about the craft quality of Little Creatures becoming compromised by the takeover of a mass-producer, Mr Markwart said, “Lion has come out and said they’ll strongly support our craft brewing operations. They recognise that our unique way of doing things is key to Little Creatures’ popularity.”

In preserving the brand’s craft identity, Lion has agreed to maintain the Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle.