Adolph Coors Co. shareholders voted to close the deal that merges the Colorado brewery with Montreal-based Molson, ending 132 years of independence for Coors.
The combined company, Molson Coors Brewing Co., will become the world’s fifth-largest brewer with $6 billion in sales.
“Coors and Molson were both founded by bold pioneers in their own time, and our family looks at this merger as a pioneering step in its own right,” said chairman Pete Coors, who will initially become vice chairman of the merged company. “We are looking for a very long and fruitful relationship together.”
Molson shareholders approved the deal last week, but only after the two companies sweetened the pot with $532 million in a special dividend. Coors shareholders weren’t part of that windfall. Before the dividend was announced there was speculation Molson shareholders would reject and merger and that the Canadian brewery might be sold to another company.
“It is a step in the right direction, but what Coors shareholders get out of it I’m not sure,” said Felix Jablonski, a Lakewood resident and Coors shareholder since the company went public in the 1970s. “We have to wait and see what happens. (Coors chief executive) Leo Kiely doesn’t make mistakes.”
With $175 million in costs savings projected by 2007, Kiely declined to detail whether layoffs would occur. “There is some overlap and some redundancies, of course,” he said. “But those are the tough decisions that you make to endure generationally in the beer business.”
With the beer industry consolidating on an international scale, Coors executives said they saw this merger as a strategic move to stay viable. “Survival has always been our long-range strategy,” former Coors chairman Bill Coors said. “Things change. You have to change with them to survive.”