Report: Pabst Brewing To Change Ownership

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pabst Brewing Co., the maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz, will be sold to food investor C. Dean Metropoulos for about $250 million, according to a published report Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter it did not name, said 15 other private equity firms had considered a bid for the brewer, based in Woodridge, Ill.

But Metropoulos, known for buying big brands such as Vlasic Pickles and Bumble Bee Tuna, will secure the deal, which is in its final stages and has financial backing from the lending arm of General Electric Co., the paper said.

Pabst representatives had no comment. A message left for Metropoulos at his company's headquarters in Connecticut was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The company has been ordered by the Internal Revenue Service to sell itself under a federal law that bars charities from owning for-profit businesses for more than five years.

The paper said Pabst has been owned for about a decade by the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, which was named for Paul Kalmanovitz, a brewing magnate who died in 1987, two years after buying Pabst. A 2005 deadline passed, so the IRS granted a five-year extension that expires this year, the paper said.

The purchase of Pabst Brewing fits into Metropoulos' strategy of buying big brands. Among its most well-known beers is Pabst Blue Ribbon, considered a blue-collar beer that is more than a century old but is seeing new popularity among 20-somethings looking to drink something different.

The brewer buys up old brands and breathes new life into them, although it generally doesn't brew its beer itself. The beers are made through contracts with other brewers, something typical in the industry. Pabst has relaunched Schlitz, a popular beer in the early part of the 20th century, in recent years and owns such brands as Old Milwaukee, Old Style, and Stroh's.

The brewer is the country's fifth-largest beer supplier, and accounted for 2.7 percent of industry volume last year, the paper said citing industry newsletter Beer Marketers Insights Inc.

Metropoulos has long invested in food brands. He assembled the investor group that acquired Aurora Foods -- producer of Duncan Hines baking mixes, Lender's bagels and various syrup brands -- out of bankruptcy in March 2004 and combined it with Pinnacle Foods, which counts among its brands Vlasic pickles.

In 2007 Pinnacle agreed to be acquired by a group led by the buyout specialist Blackstone Group for about $1.3 billion in cash.

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