Reuters - Wed, 17 Mar 23:41:00 2010
Molson Coors Brewing Co, whose Molson Canadian beer is one of Canada's most popular brews, is not interested in owning hockey teams or other professional sports franchises, preferring to limit itself to targeted sports sponsorships.
"I don't think we're in the business of buying teams," said Molson Coors Chief Executive Peter Swinburn at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago.
Molson Coors did reap a £30 million profit last year on the sale of its minority stake in a group of assets that included the National Hockey League's storied Montreal Canadiens franchise and the arena in which the team plays.
But even though hockey-mad Canada is the major market in which Molson Coors is expanding its share the fastest, Swinburn said the company had no intention of buying a stake in any potential new National Hockey League team in Canada.
Still, Molson Coors remains committed to its sponsorship deals there, he said.
"Absolutely we are involved in sports sponsorships, but it really has to reinforce what the brand proposition is and give us a platform," he said. The goal of sponsorship deals is to win retail space and display. "For Molson Canadian, hockey is a big property."
The brewer's deals include sponsorships with NASCAR and the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, Swinburn said, adding that Molson Coors would look at similar deals with any new NHL teams.
In December, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Reuters the league could potentially expand. While he did not mention any specific candidate cities, he noted there was strong interest in Winnipeg and Quebec City.
Buyers of Molson Coors' minority stake in the Canadiens were led by members of the Molson family, Geoff Molson and his brothers Andrew and Justin.
The Molson family has a long history with the Canadiens, who have won an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cups, and owned the team from 1957 to 1971.