Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing to be sold to Australian beverage giant

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- New Belgium Brewing, the largest craft brewery in the state and fourth-largest in the U.S., is being sold to Australian-based Lion Little World Beverages, it was announced Tuesday.

Fort Collins-based New Belgium grew into the fourth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. in the nearly 30 years, only behind Yuengling, Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada.

Lion Little World Beverages is a subsidiary of Japanese company Kirin Holdings Company Limited.

The cash sale is for an undisclosed amount and is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, pending approval by employee stock owners.

New Belgium founder Kim Jordan said in a letter that more than 300 employee-owners will receive more than $100,000 in retirement money, “with some receiving significantly greater amounts."

CEO Steve Fechheimer said the brewery employs nearly 700 people. New Belgium's headquarters will remain in Fort Collins.

Fechheimer will continue as CEO with his management team staying in place. Jordan will also remain involved with the company.

“We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback,” Jordan wrote in the letter. “But here’s another way to look at it. … Over the life of our (employee stock ownership plan), including this transaction, the total amount paid to current and former employees will be nearly $190 million."

Jordan and her ex-husband Jeff Lebesch started New Belgium Brewing in their Fort Collins basement in 1991.

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