MillerCoors gets a thirst for Crispin cider

LONDON Mon Feb 6, 2012 3:30pm EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - MillerCoors, the second-largest brewer in the United States, has bought the nation's No.3 cider maker Crispin to tap into the drink's rapid growth across America in the second U.S. cider deal in as many months.

The brewer, which combines the U.S. operations of SABMiller (SAB.L) and Molson Coors (TAP.N), said on Monday it had purchased the Minneapolis-based Crispin Cider Company, which only started making ciders at its plant in Colfax, California, in 2008.

The U.S. cider market is only 0.5 percent the size of the beer market, but has nearly doubled in size since 2005 and grew at 26 percent last year compared with a declining beer market. MillerCoors sees significant growth potential as the UK cider market accounts for 17 percent of its national beer market.

The Crispin business will join MillerCoor's craft-and-import division Tenth and Blake, and ranks third in a U.S. cider market led by the Vermont Hard Cider Company and then second-placed Irish drinks group C&C (GCC.I) which bought Hornsby's last November.

No price was disclosed for the Crispin deal, but industry sources said it was below $100 million.

(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by David Cowell)

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