Japanase brewery acquires Canada's third-largest producer

Japan's Sapporo Breweries has a deal in place to acquire Sleeman Breweries, Canada's third-largest brewing company, for $300 million.

Sleeman's board of directors is recommending shareholders tender to the offer and the company has agreed not to solicit competing bids or it will pay an $8.5-million break fee.

"In Sapporo's offer, we not only received fair value for shareholders, but confidence that Sleeman has an owner with the financial resources and track record to continue to grow and build Sleeman's national portfolio of premium brands. This transaction will allow Sleeman to be more competitive in the premium beer category and continue to build the business," said chairman and CEO John Sleeman.

Canada's two largest brewers, Molson Coors and Labatt, which each have 41% the Canadian beer market, also were interested in Sleeman, as was Dutch beer maker Grolsch.

The deal means that Sleeman's four breweries will likely remain open. Had Molson or Labatt acquired Sleeman consolidation was considered likely.

John Sleeman founded his brewery in 1988, launching a craft beer based on an old family recipe. Through a series of acquisitions of smaller microbreweries, Sleeman grew to become the country's third-biggest beer maker with 7% of the market.