Merger Mania

Do doubt that distributor consolidation with accelerate with the pending Miller Coors joint venture and speculation of an InBev takeover of SABMiller or Anheuser-Busch. Accelerate you ask? Hasn’t it already been rampant? Yes it has and yes it will accelerate.

Another popped on Monday.

Portland-based Columbia Distributing Co., Portland-based Mt. Hood Beverage Co. and Medford-based Gold River Distributing announced that they plan to merge their beer and nonalcoholic beverage distribution businesses in Oregon and Washington, following approval from their respective suppliers. The merger will not include their wine distribution businesses, which will remain separately owned. John Klein will remain as president of Young’s Columbia wine company.

The new organization, which will be named CoHo Distributing, will have annual sales of more than 35 million cases of beer and nonalcoholic beverages. It will operate out of consolidated facilities in Seattle, Everett, Portland, Eugene, Medford and Bend. In addition, the Mt. Hood Beverage operations in Yakima and Kennewick in Washington will be included in the merged company effective January 2009.

The company’s headquarters will be based in Portland. CoHo Distributing will remain principally owned by the combined existing ownership of the Agnew and Lytle families, the families of Ed Maletis and Ron Fowler and the principals of Endeavour Capital.

Steve Lytle, current president and CEO of Mt. Hood Beverage, will serve as chairman of the board. Gregg Christiansen, current president and CEO of Columbia Distributing, will serve as president and CEO of CoHo Distributing, reporting to the newly formed CoHo board of directors.