Pull back your man bun and pour out a little Pabst Blue Ribbon, as it has become the latest iconic American alcohol brand to be bought by non-Americans. Pabst Brewing Company, the Los Angeles-headquartered brewer of PBR, Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and more than two-dozen other labels, had been in the U.S. for 170 years, sticking it out through two world wars, the American Civil War and the Cold War. But now, like Brooklyn's pro basketball team, the unofficial swill of the Brooklyn hipster set is being sold to a Russia-based company.
Russian-American entrepreneur Eugene Kashper announced Thursday that the Russian beer and soda conglomerate he founded, Oasis Beverages, will partner with private-equity firm TSG Consumer Partners to purchase Pabst. The deal values Pabst at between $700 million and $750 million, people familiar with the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal.
“Pabst Blue Ribbon is the quintessential American brand – it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression – all the things that make this country great,” Kashper said in a statement. “The opportunity to work with the company’s treasure trove of iconic brands, some of which I started my career selling, is a dream come true.”
The company is the latest in a fast-growing list of popular American beers to be co-opted by foreign companies. Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) acquired Anheuser-Busch in July 2008, marking the end of American stewardship of brands like Budweiser, Busch and Michelob. Over the past dozen years, Coors was acquired by a Canadian firm and Miller was picked up by a South African company.
Pabst has been buoyed in recent years by a resurgence in the popularity of PBR driven in large part by an ironic co-opting of fading relics by young professionals in gentrifying urban areas like Oakland, California, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The company is currently owned by the American billionaire investor and businessman C. Dean Metropoulos, who purchased it in 2010 for $250 million. Metropoulos is also a co-owner of the Twinkie food product line.
Pabst’s headquarters will remain in L.A., though the New York Times reports that its current co-CEOs, Metropoulos’ sons Evan and Daren, are expected to resign so Kashper can take over as chief executive.
Born in Russia, Kashper and his wife Natalya emigrated from the former Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s. Natalya is a co-founder of the Brooklyn and L.A.-based architecture firm DUB Studios, according to a 2009 story in the Home & Garden section of the New York Times covering the $2.8 million remodeling she oversaw of the top-floor loft the Kashpers purchased in New York’s SoHo neighborhood for $6.9 million in 2006.