Coors takes control of Cobra in JV

01 June, 2009

Molson Coors has taken a majority stake in a joint venture company to control the Cobra beer brand.

Cobra founder Lord Karan Bilimoria remains as company chairman of Cobra Beer Partnership, which will be managed by Molson Coors (UK) with a 50.1% shareholding.

CBP will own the worldwide rights to Cobra with the exception of the Indian sub-continent.

Adam Davey, formerly managing director of Molson Coors’ off-trade business will be managing director of the joint venture company.

Molson Coors said its UK arm and Lord Bilimoria had been in talks with the company’s key creditors “in advance of administration proceedings in pursuit of joint venture solutions that would preserve the Cobra brand and maximise the return to creditors”.

Cobra had been put up for sale at the end of 2008.

A period of consultation with Cobra employees has begun and a joint venture integration team has been formed to manage the process.

Molson Coors (UK) chief executive officer Mark Hunter said: “Cobra is an excellent fit within our UK portfolio, alongside international brands such as Grolsch, Blue Moon and Sol, and builds our commitment to offer customers an outstanding range of beers to pair with food.

“The immediate business priorities are to ensure a smooth transition and continuity for Cobra’s customers, while we integrate the Cobra brand and many of its people into our organisation.”

Cobra was founded by Lord Bilimoria in 1989 and has achieved high growth rates in recent years, but on the back of massive marketing budgets that have left the company in a loss-making position.

Molson Coors said the “business model could not be sustained in the current economic environment”.

Lord Bilimoria described the move as “the best option to ensure continuity of supply for Cobra customers and security of employment for some Cobra employees”.

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