Miller sells stake in Molson Canada, sells half of Molson USA

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TORONTO -- Molson Cos. Ltd. and Foster's Brewing Group are buying Miller Brewing Co.'s 20% stake in Canada's Molson Breweries, ending a three-way partnership in the Canadian beer marketer.

Molson Cos. and Australian brewer Foster's will each buy 10% of Molson Breweries from Miller, increasing their holdings to 50% each.

As part of the deal, Molson Cos., Foster's and Miller have formed a new three-way venture, Molson USA, which markets Molson and Foster's brands in the U.S. Milwaukee-based Miller will hold 50.1% of the venture, with Molson Cos. and Foster's splitting the remainder. Miller previously owned Molson USA outright.

"We gain significant earnings potential in the U.S. market through our ownership in the U.S. joint venture," says Molson Cos. President James Arnett.

Miller plans to "focus marketing resources on core markets" for the Molson and Foster's brands in the U.S., he says.

Molson Cos. paid nearly $150 million in total in the deal.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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