Miller sells Shipyard, buys out Celis

Pugsley, Forsely back in charge at Maine brewery

Apr 14, 2000 - The Miller Brewing Co. has divested itself of one craft brewing company it took a share of in 1995 and purchased 100% ownership of the other it also bought into in 1995.


The Milwaukee-based brewer now totally owns the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, while Shipyard Brewing Co. founders Alan Pugsley and Fred Forsely are back in charge of their Maine brewery.

"We wish Alan and Fred the best of luck in the future,'' said John Bowlin, Miller's President and CEO. "We valued their partnership and brewing acumen as members of the Miller Brewing Co. family. They expressed an interest in re-acquiring sole ownership of the company they founded and we agreed to the deal.''

The ownership changes at Celis and Shipyard were expected. Miller took a $29 million pretax charge during the fourth quarter of 1999 related to the asset write-downs of Celis, Shipyard and Miller's idle brewery in Fulton, N.Y., which remains on the sale block.

While Pugsley and Forsley wanted full ownership of their brewery, Miller spokesman Peter Marino said the Celis family exercised an option that required Miller to buy their share of Celis Brewery.

Miller originally purchased stakes in both Celis and Shipyard in 1995, when specialty beer sales were booming. The domestic craft brewing industry posted annual volume sales increases ranging from 25% to 70% from 1992 through 1996. That dropped to 5% in 1997 and slowed even more since.

Miller's other specialty brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., registered a 2.8% sales increase in 1999, selling 329,000 barrels of beer in 1999. Leinenkugel is the nation's third-largest specialty brewer.

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