Beers All Around: Russian Brewer Acquires PBR-Maker

Pabst Brewing Company was acquired by Russian company Oasis Beverages in what's been a busy week for the global beer industry.

Beers All Around: Russian Brewer Acquires PBR-Maker
Valerie Hinojosa / CC BY SA 2.0

It's been a busy week for the global brewing industry. Dutch brewer Heineken rejected an acquisition offer from SABMiller, and now an eastern front has opened in the battle between the world's top beer makers.

SCARLET FU FOR BLOOMBERG: "New owners for Pabst Brewing. Oasis Beverages of Russia have a majority stake in Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer."

This comes after the Russian brewing company announced on Thursday it had acquired the maker of PBR, Colt 45 and Old Milwaukee. (Video via Pabst Blue Ribbon)

According to the press release, Oasis Chairman Eugene Kashper will become CEO of the Pabst Brewing Company — though the company's headquarters will remain in Los Angeles. 

And while there don't appear to be any plans to brew a Schlitz-branded vodka, CNBC explains the acquisition may be indicative of a trend brewing in the industry.

JEFF CIOLETTI VIA CNBC"Now there's been talk, and this has been going on and off for years now, of an SABMiller-AB InBev merger."

Heineken's rebuff of an acquisition bid by SABMiller renewed speculation that the company might be vulnerable to acquisition by Bud Light producer AB InBev. Those two companies currently combine for a 30 percent share of the global beer market.

And while a market share of that size could run up against antitrust regulations, AB InBev got around similar regulations less than two years ago to acquire Corona producer Grupo Modelo. 

The move led New York Times columnist Adam Davidson to suggest the company was gearing up to fight what he calls the new global beer war, explaining: "As the traditional beer markets of the United States, Europe and Japan age, the most lucrative markets will be in China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe, [and] the wealthier countries of Africa."

In those countries, which are experiencing population growth, beer markets are still developing, giving brewing companies an opportunity to reach a large new generation of customers. 

Oasis Beverages' acquisition of Pabst seems to fall in line with this thinking, as the Russian beer maker claims to hold a 12 percent share of the beer market in Moscow and a 13 percent share in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city.