LOS ANGELES — Blue Moon in Bulgaria? Carling and Coors Light in Croatia? With its $3.54 billion purchase of Prague- and Amsterdam-based brewer StarBev, Molson Coors Brewing might be able to place more of its brands in Central and Eastern Europe.
Molson Coors bought the company from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for 2.65 billion euros. Less than three years earlier, CVC had bought StarBev from Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes Budweiser.
StarBev, known for more than 20 local brands including Staropramen, Kamenitza and Bergenbier, pulled in about $1 billion in revenue last year.
Molson Coors, which splits its headquarters between Denver and Montreal, is like many other brewers looking abroad for growth opportunities. At home, the beer business is losing momentum as drinkers gravitate more toward spirits, ciders and artisan craft brews.
So Molson Coors is looking east. StarBev employs about 4,100 people and has nine breweries in seven countries, including Serbia and Hungary.
The deal awaits approval from European antitrust authorities but is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.