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Kona Brewing Co. to spin off Hawaii operations

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                                A flight of Kona Brewing Co. beer. at Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki.


    A flight of Kona Brewing Co. beer. at Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki.

Kona Brewing Co. in Hawaii is slated to return to independent ownership under a revised stock sale of its mainland parent company.

In a deal announced today, the Portland, Ore.-based parent of Kona Brewing, Craft Brew Alliance, plans to sell the Hawaii operations of Kona Brewing to a partnership between a former beer company executive and a Kansas City-based investment firm.

This arrangement revises a deal announced in November under which beer industry giant Anheuser-Busch was to buy all the shares in Craft Brew that it didn’t already own, or about 69% of the company, in a deal valued at about $223 million.

Under the original plan, Anheuser-Busch would have acquired total ownership of Kona Brewing, including canned and bottled beer production on the mainland along with two restaurants and a kegged beer brewery in Hawaii where Kona Brewing was founded. A new brewery under construction in Hawaii to produce more beer including canned varieties also was part of the original deal.

Now all the Hawaii assets are to be bought by a partnership between David Peacock, a former Anheuser-Busch president, and investment firm VantEdge Partners.

A price to be paid by the partnership, PV Brewing, was not immediately disclosed.

No changes are expected to Kona Brewing operations in Hawaii that employ about 220 people. Work is continuing on a 100,000-barrel brewery being built on Hawaii island to replace the company’s existing 14,000-barrel brewery in Kailua-Kona — a $20 million project that began five years ago and has been beset by delays.

Kona Brewing was founded in 1994 on Hawaii island.

Company founders Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa sold the business to Craft Brew in 2010 in an $18 million deal, and Kona Brewing grew into the biggest brand for Craft Brew, which produces other brands that include Redhook, Widmer Brothers, Omission and Appalachian Mountain.

Craft Brew makes all Kona Brewing canned and bottled beers at breweries on the mainland.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, owns its own a collection of over a dozen craft brewery brands, including 10 Barrel, Elysian, Four Peaks, Golden Road and Goose Island.

Anheuser-Busch also brews and distributes Craft Brew beverages under contractual agreements.

Anheuser-Busch and Craft Brew said the deal with PV Brewing was made for the Hawaii operations of Kona Brewing to alleviate potential regulatory concerns and expedite the regulatory review process.

Specific potential regulatory concerns were not disclosed.

The companies said the two-part sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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