Wow. This rumor is just mind-boggling. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But could it be true? According to Harry Schuhmacher at Beer Business Daily, it’s not only being discussed but is considered “likely and lucrative.” Harry’s quoting analysts at Credit Suisse who believe “‘SABMiller selling to ABI would provide SAB management and shareholders an obvious and desirable exit strategy for all involved. The idea of a merger we believe could be sold to both sets of shareholders’ even though ‘this would be a large deal with many moving parts.'” Apparently there’s not much overlap between the two behemoths globally, but in the U.S. it would be more of an issue, with the two companies combining for around 80% of the domestic beer market. That, I imagine, would raise big anti-trust concerns and would loom large in the closing of the deal, which would also most likely lead to massive distributor consolidation. The price being thrown around is somewhere in the $9-10 billion range.
Obviously, there’s a lot more details to be worked out, and many of them are already addressed in the Beer Business Daily piece, which looks at pros and cons for both sides, and likely resolutions of certain issues both companies face. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think on first blush. To read the rest of it, I highly recommend a subscription to Harry’s newsletter.
When Anheuser-Busch and InBev merged, I remember someone joking that eventually there would be just one international beer company and it would just be called “Beer.” I chuckled at the time, but maybe they were on to something. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.