Molson Coors Brewing has signed a definitive agreement to acquire StarBev for 2.65bn ($3.54bn) from private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners and StarBev management.

The acquisition helps Molson Coors to expand its portfolio with the addition of StarBev’s brands including Staropramen, Borsodi, Bergenbier and Jelen.

The transaction, subject to approval by certain European competition authorities, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

After the completion of the transaction, StarBev will be operated as a separate business unit within Molson Coors and will be headquartered in the Czech Republic.

StarBev employs around 4,100 people and operates nine breweries in Central and Eastern European countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

The company brews around 13 million hectoliters per year.

CVC acquired StarBev, which generated sales of around €700m last year, from Anheuser-Busch for $3bn in 2009.

Molson Coors president and chief executive Peter Swinburn told Dow Jones Newswires that Molson Coors may take some of StarBev’s brews, such as Staropramen, into new markets and can also increase StarBev’s market share through branding and packaging changes.

"The Central and Eastern European beer market is attractive, with strong historical trends and upside potential as the region returns to its pre-economic-crisis growth rates," Swinburn said.

"As a market leader in the CEE region, StarBev provides Molson Coors with a great platform for growth and an excellent foundation from which to extend our key brands, such as Carling, into Central and Eastern Europe."

Nomura International acted as financial adviser and UK-based law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted as legal adviser to CVC and StarBev LP.

Molson Coors expects that financing for the transaction will include $3bn in cash and debt and an additional $667m in convertible debt issued to the seller.

Image: CVC acquired StarBev, which generated sales of around €700m last year, from Anheuser-Busch for $3bn in 2009. Photo: StarBev