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Brewery sells minority stake to Spanish company

December 17, 2014
| By Pat Evans |
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Brewery sells minority stake to Spanish company
Mike Stevens, left, and Dave Engbers, right, the co-founders of Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, raise a glass with Javier López del Hierro, the president of Mahou San Miguel in Madrid. Courtesy Mahou

One of the region’s top breweries is selling a 30-percent stake in its business to a brewer based in Madrid — to set its sights on “multi-generational” international growth.

The deal

Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids said this morning that it has partnered with investor and brewery Mahou San Miguel.

Mahou San Miguel has been Spain’s largest brewery for 125 years and is 100 percent family owned.

Mahou San Miguel operates eight brewing centers — seven in Spain and one in India.

The deal is expected to be completed in January.

"We knew that taking on a partner was the necessary, responsible thing to do for the future of Founders, because it would open up new doors for growth, as well as ensure our legacy for years to come,” said Mike Stevens, CEO and co-founder, Founders Brewing Co.

“We spent a long time determining who would be the best partner to help us grow Founders, while staying true to our beers and our culture. Mahou shares our family values and a commitment to their communities. They also believe in the importance of long-term partnerships. We are honored to be working with a brewer that commands so much respect.”

Stevens says selling the 30-percent stake affords “some liquidity to our long-standing shareholders,” according to a post on Founders’ website.

“Many of our early investors are aging, and we believe it’s fair that they have the opportunity to realize a portion of their significant investments in the brewery.”

Stevens says the brewery is committed to growing in Grand Rapids, and it’s important that it becomes "a multi-generational brewery."

He also assures customers that Founders’ beer will not change.

“The entire Founders family will stay intact,” Stevens says.

The move comes a few months after the brewery’s said it’s committed to staying in the city, planning a massive expansion that could take production up to 900,000 barrels a year. The brewery expects to brew more than 300,000 barrels next year.


The partnership is meant to help grow Founders through Mahou’s international distribution network, as the pair will be focused on long-term growth, while “Founders will remain Founders.”

The partnership also gives Mahou San Miguel an entrance into the massive craft beer market in the U.S.

"Our investment in Founders is a great source of learning, innovation and transformation for Mahou San Miguel to get directly involved in the U.S. craft market,” said Javier López del Hierro, president, Mahou San Miguel. “It’s the most valuable beer market worldwide, a market that sets consumer trends, with excellent prospects for growth. Founders combines product excellence with a level of business acumen that stands out in the craft beer segment.”


Robert W. Baird & Co. is serving as financial advisor to Founders. Greenberg Traurig is acting as the company’s legal advisor.

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