Pabst up for sale again

Owner has tried to sell historic company before. Will new PBR sales momentum help this time?

By Kim Peterson Nov 3, 2009 1:30PM
Beer © CorbisPabst Brewing Co., a beer maker with no actual breweries but some well-known brands, is reportedly looking for a buyer. But will anyone bite?

Pabst has hired Bank of America (BAC) to push the deal, reports The New York Post, and wants to get about $300 million out of it.

Pabst brands own a special place in beer history, and include Schlitz, Colt 45 and Old Milwaukee. But the brand that may end up getting the company sold is Pabst Blue Ribbon, a hipster favorite that is seeing skyrocketing sales.

Since it doesn't own breweries, Pabst acts mainly as a marketing company, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It contracts out the beermaking to other brewers.

Despite its hardscrabble, old-school image, Pabst is actually owned by a charitable foundation in Northern California. But the Internal Revenue Service doesn't like charities to run for-profit companies, and is demanding a sale.

Problem is, no one wants to buy. The charitable foundation hasn't been able to find a buyer for years, and the IRS has extended its original 2005 sell deadline to 2010, reports the Chicago Tribune.

But Pabst now has a shining star in its family: Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR sales are up 25% this year, NBC reports. Schlitz is also seeing a revival of sorts.

Pabst Brewing's overall sales have been dropping over the years, but 2008 saw a smaller decrease of only 3.3%.

Maybe Pabst can take advantage of the wave of buyouts that has hit the beer industry. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and North American breweries are the logical bidders, the Post reports.

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