It looks like Newark’s finest, Rolling Rock, may be another casualty of the A-B InBev merger of last year. Ironically, A-B bought Rolling Rock from InBev for $82 million in 2006 and then bought it back as part of the 52 billion they paid for Anheuser-Busch.
Not surprisingly, the brand has been struggling since they started brewing it in Newark, New Jersey, shutting down it’s traditional hometown brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I’ve haven’t been to the website in a while, and I guess I don’t have the newest flash technology, because all I see is a blank amber screen and the words in the title above the browser “Rolling Rock. Born Small Town.” I guess moving to the big city wasn’t such a hot idea after all.
So it appears the Wall Street Journal broke the story, though it’s been picked up by a variety of other sources, including MarketWatch, Reuters, the St. Louis Business Journal and UPI. As most accounts say, A-B InBev is selling off under-performing brands to pay the big $52 Billion nugget that got them where they are now, and during a recession no less.
According to the UPI account, the “Beverage Information Group said Rolling Rock sales fell 13 percent in 2008, compared with 2007.” Reuters writes that “AB InBev looked at bids for the brand earlier this year using investment bank Lazard Ltd., but wasn’t satisfied with the offers.”
Who might want to buy Rolling Rock? The St. Louis Business Journal speculates. “Possible suitors include North American Breweries Inc., which is owned by KPS Capital Partners, a New-York based private equity firm. Last month, A-B InBev sold Labatt USA, the exclusive U.S. importer of Labatt beer, to KPS. Labatt USA is headquartered in Buffalo.”