Brewing giant SABMiller said Friday it had bought London-based craft beer company Meantime for an undisclosed sum, as big players in a saturated beer market eye opportunities in the fast-growing sector.
"Meantime is a pioneer in British modern craft beer, giving SABMiller an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market," the British-South African company said in a statement.
SABMiller, which owns major global brands like Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, Miller and Grolsch, said it would aim to grow Meantime nationally and explore export opportunities to other parts of Europe.
Established in 1999 in the southeast London suburb of Greenwich, Meantime has become popular on the city's craft beer scene with its London Pale Ale and Yakima Red brews.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman declined to reveal the value of the deal, but a source said it was much less than the £300 million (414 million euros, $473 million) valuation for another British craft beer company, Brewdog.
The deal highlights the growing popularity of craft beers in Britain.
The volume of beer sold by Meantime rose 58 percent in 2014, compared to overall growth in the British beer market of just one percent last year.
Spiros Malandrakis, an expert at Euromonitor, a market intelligence company in London, said brewers wanted to get away from "maturity and saturation."
Big brewers were interested in taking over craft brewers "to make the most of their momentum," he said.
But he warned the move carried risks, including a possible "backlash" against them from the craft beer community.