Private-equity firm buys unit of ABI

Private-equity firm KPS Capital Partners LP agreed to buy Labatt USA, a unit of brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, as part of a foray into the beer industry.

New York-based KPS also said it has acquired High Falls Brewing Co., the maker of the Genesee and Dundee beer brands, and formed a new company, North American Breweries Inc., to serve as a platform for investments in the beer and malt-beverage sectors.

Labatt USA, which imports Labatt Blue and other brands made in Canada by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has been on the block because the Justice Department's antitrust division required InBev to sell the Buffalo, N.Y., division to complete its $52 billion purchase of Anheuser-Busch last year.

KPS also said Monday that it bought a license for the Seagram's Cooler Escapes and Seagram's Smooth malt-beverage brands from the U.S. arm of French spirits giant Pernod Ricard SA. The High Falls brewery in Rochester, N.Y., makes those products.

Financial terms of the deals weren't disclosed. The Labatt USA purchase remains subject to the approval of the Justice Department.

"The formation of North American Breweries gives us an outstanding growth platform in the beer and malt beverage industries that is exceptionally positioned to create value for our investors," Raquel Vargas Palmer, a partner of KPS, said in a prepared statement.