Japanese brewing giant Asahi agreed yesterday to splash out €2.55 billion (£1.98bn) to buy SABMiller’s Peroni, Grolsch, Miller Brands UK and Meantime brewing company ahead of SAB’s impending agreed takeover by AB InBev.
The deal includes Peroni and Grolsch in the UK and Europe, but not the US, and is meant to anticipate any regulatory hurdles to the bigger deal.
SABMiller said it had been informed by AB InBev, already the world’s biggest brewer, that it was in receipt of an offer for the businesses from Asahi, which is Japan’s largest brewing company.
SABMiller said: “The proposed sale is in line with AB InBev’s commitment to proactively address potential regulatory considerations relating to its recommended offer to acquire SABMiller.
“The Asahi binding offer, if accepted by AB InBev following required employee consultation, is conditional on completion of the AB InBev acquisition of SABMiller.”
That is expected in the second half of 2016. It came as Dutch brewer Heineken yesterday said it expected further trading headwinds from emerging markets as it unveiled a 25 per cent rise in profits to €1.89bn (£1.5bn) in 2015.
The group, which with Carlsberg of Denmark carved up the former Scottish & Newcastle Breweries in 2007 via joint takeover, said it was helped by positive UK performance with the launch of Strongbow Cloudy Apple cider.
Its boost to profits was helped by double-digit growth of its tequila-flavoured beer brand Desperados, which matched robust performances by sister brands Affligem and Sol Premium.
Heineken chairman and chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said he was confident of delivering revenue and profit growth in 2016. But he included caveats about deflationary pressures in the drinks industry and increased volatility across emerging markets.
Heineken’s internally generated revenues grew 3.5 per cent to €20.5bn (£15.9bn).