New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo., announced that the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) has purchased the balance of company shares, making it 100-percent employee-owned. New Belgium, which makes Fat Tire Amber Ale, Lips of Faith beers and more, has been a partial ESOP since 2000 with a controlling interest held by co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Kim Jordan and her family.
“There are few times in life where you get to make choices that will have multi-generational impact — this is one of those times,” Jordan said in a statement. “We have an opportunity to write the next chapter of this incredible story and we’re really excited about that. We have always had a high involvement ownership culture, and this allows us to take that to the next logical level. It will provide an elegant succession framework that keeps the executive team intact, ensuring our vision stays true going forward.”
Jordan plans to remain chief executive officer for the long-term, and the executive team at New Belgium will continue in its current form. The brewer currently is building a second facility in Asheville, N.C., that will begin beer production in 2015. More than 150 additional hires are expected by full build-out of the facility. The transition to 100 percent ownership will enable New Belgium to include its future co-workers in Asheville in the plan and will drive an even deeper commitment to progressive business practices for the company, it says.
New Belgium was advised by Eureka Capital Markets, a middle-market investment banking firm with expertise in both the food and beverage sectors and ESOP transactions, which assisted in structuring and completing the second stage ESOP buyout transaction.
“Given all of the consolidation occurring in the craft brew sector, we expect that many other craft brewers will investigate how using an ESOP might help them achieve their transition goals while enabling them to remain independent companies,” said Michael Harden, managing director for Eureka Capital Markets, in a statement.
The deal was completed Dec. 28 with a companywide announcement made during New Belgium’s annual winter retreat Jan. 14. All 456 employee-owners were present for the celebration. Prior to this deal, New Belgium co-workers held 41 percent of the company’s shares.