Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), Portland, Ore., announced an expanded partnership with Anheuser-Busch (A-B), a subsidiary of Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, wherein A-B will purchase CBA shares it does not already own for $16.50 a share, in cash, in a merger transaction. A-B currently owns a 31.2 percent stake in CBA, and a vast majority of its brands already are distributed through A-B’s network of independent wholesalers through the companies’ existing commercial agreement.

“[This] announcement represents an exciting next step in a long and successful partnership with Anheuser-Busch, whose support for the growth of our business and brands traces back over 25 years,” said Andy Thomas, chief executive officer of CBA, in a statement. “By combining our resources, our talented teammates, and dynamic brands, we will look to nurture the growth of CBA’s existing portfolio as we continue investing in innovation to meet the changing needs of today’s beverage consumers, all while delivering certainty of value to our shareholders.”

The CBA joins A-B’s Brewers Collective, which is a collection of craft partners spread throughout the country committed to providing consumers with innovative, quality beers and investing in their local communities, the company says.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by a majority of CBA’s shareholders not affiliated with A-B and certain regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in 2020.

“The beer industry in the U.S. is competitive and dynamic, with more choices available to consumers than ever before,” said Marcelo “Mika” Michaelis, president of Brewers Collective at Anheuser-Busch. “CBA’s diverse portfolio of regional breweries and innovative lifestyle brands is an excellent complement to our family of craft partners and would continue to help fuel the growth of the craft beer category.” BI