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Business

Warsteiner loses thirst for global markets

German brewer Warsteiner has sold its last foreign subsidiary. Licensing agreements will keep the brand alive internationally, while the family-run company builds its business at home.

A Warsteiner beer

Warsteiner has been a family-run company since 1753

German brewer Warsteiner has ended its direct involvement in the international market by selling its Argentinan subsidiary Isenbeck – founded in 1994 – to British beer giant SABMiller.

The sale marks the end of the privately held company's push to shed its foreign operations, especially in regions subject to political volatility. In 2008 it turned three production facilities in Africa over to the French Castel group.

Warsteiner beer will still be available around the world through licensing agreements with other brewers. The global market for beer is largely pinned down by large companies like, SABMiller, InBev, Heineken and Carlsberg.

Steffan Leppin, a press speaker for Warsteiner, said competing for additional market share was futile for the mid-sized company.

Isenbeck logo

Argentinian beer Isenbeck was the last of Warsteiner's foreign holdings

"A mid-sized company like the Warsteiner Group – we're dwarves by comparison – can't hold out in the long term," he told Deutsche Welle. "If we have partners who carry our brand in their portfolios, then that's certainly an advantage."

Expansion in Germany likely

Despite the change in strategy, international turnover via licensing remains an important component of Warsteiner's business, Leppin said. The company wants to focus on Europe and North America, and is likely to buy brands within Germany in the future.

"We're a classic family-run company," he said. "We have a healthy core and good liquidity."

Warsteiner was founded in 1753 by Antonius Cramer in the North-Rhein Westphalian city of Warstein and remains in the hands of his family. Catharina Cramer, who became the group's executive in 2006, said in a release that the sale will "secure the presence and quality of Warsteiner in Argentina for the long-term."

Leppin said samples of Warsteiner beer brewed overseas are flown back to Germany on a weekly basis for quality control.

Author: Gerhard Schneibel
Editor: John Blau

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