Craft beer takeover toast of London
A leading craft beer business is to be taken over by a multinational brewing giant in a deal targeting one of the market's fastest growing sectors.
Greenwich-based Meantime Brewing Company was founded in 1999 by master brewer Alastair Hook and produces a range of beers such as London Pale Ale, London Lager, India Pale Ale and Yakima Red.
SABMiller, which brews Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell and Miller Lite, said it plans to grow Meantime's sales nationally and study export opportunities in European markets.
FTSE 100-listed SABMilller has not disclosed the value of the deal, which will give it access to "the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market".
Meantime grew its beer volume sales by 58% last year, compared to the UK average of just 1% growth. Beer sales have been flat across Europe for a number of years.
The brand is stocked in over 900 on-trade outlets as well as Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer.
SABMiller Europe managing director Sue Clark said: "Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles."
The deal includes Meantime's Greenwich brewery and 26 pubs across London.
SABMiller, which has a market valuation of £58.7 billion, added that the London firm's brewery will also become a centre for the group's European innovation and new product development.
SABMiller said that Meantime chief executive Nick Miller will remain with the brand.
Mr Miller said: "The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and have a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of the local businesses they've bought in the past."
The deal is expected to be completed in early June.
SABMiller said in the year to the end of March it sold 324 million hectolitres of lager, soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages, which generated earnings of 6.4 billion US dollars (£4.1 billion) on sales of 26.3 billion US dollars (£16.7 billion).