THE brewing sector was galvanised yesterday when it was confirmed that the world’s two biggest brewing companies are to have talks with a view to a multi-billion pound mega‑merger.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the global industry leader with annual sales of about $47 billion (£30.5bn), said in a statement following recurrent speculation that a possible deal was in the pipeline: “AB InBev confirms that it has made an approach to SABMiller’s board of directors regarding a combination of the two companies. AB InBev’s intention is to work with SABMiller’s board toward a recommended transaction.” SABMiller, which has annual sales of $26bn (£16.9bn), said in its response that AB InBev had informed it that it intended to make a proposal to acquire the company.
“No proposal has yet been received and the board of SABMiller has no further details about the terms of any such proposals,” SABMiller said.
“The board… will review and respond as appropriate to any proposal which might be made.” Both sides said there was no certainty that an offer would be made.
Shares in SABMiller, whose brands include Peroni and Grolsch, and which employs 69,000 in more than 80 countries soared 19.9 per cent to close at 3,614p. AB InBev, whose brands include Budweiser and Stella Artois, and which employs 155,000, rose 6.4 per cent to just over €100.
Analysts said the tie–up, which could create a brewing leviathan worth about $280bn (£182bn), had strong rationale in terms of costcutting and revenue synergies. Analysts believe AB InBev boss Carlos Brito would head any new entity.
Keith Bowman, an analyst with stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “I’m sure there will be competition authority reviews of this in America, Europe or both.
“I think the shares have reacted because investors see the potential for costsavings. Beer industry sales have been slowing and there is hope this will provide some earnings momentum over the medium term.”