Reuters Hinting At Possible ABI/SABMiller Merger

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Rumors and discussions of a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller are nothing new, it’s been talked about by the business press off and on for a number of years now. But it had been quiet lately, most likely because of the deal by ABI to buy Grupo Modelo. But yesterday Reuters fanned the flames of merger once again, in a piece of speculation: Bets on for mega brewer merger as virgin ground shrinks.

With the acknowledged bullet points that “Asia main area with assets left to buy,” and that the ABI and SABMiller would combine the “growth markets” of Africa and Latin America,” they put the price for ABI to buy SABMiller at at least $100 billion. According to Reuters:

Now, with AB InBev planning to return to a comfortable pre-deal debt-to-EBITDA ratio of below two next year, industry experts are betting on a combination of its Budweiser and Stella Artois brands with SABMiller’s Peroni and Grolsch. Some expect a deal within a year.

“It’s more a question of when, not if,” said a banker who has worked on drinks deals. Others, also speaking on condition of anonymity, cited AB InBev’s record as a serial acquirer and the need for a target to match or surpass its $52 billion purchase of Anheuser Busch in 2008.

Asia, they claim, is the next frontier, though many of the bigger breweries are state-owned (which means expensive). Interestingly, while they admit that SABMiller would also be expensive the Reuters’ business analysts believe “a tie-up would be straightforward with antitrust issues relatively easy to fix and immediate benefits of scale.” Other analysts, however, do see potential problems with the merger from “regulators is in the United States and China” because of the market overlap in those countries.

Price, not surprisingly, is the elephant in the room, and the estimated $100 billion ticket price would make such a deal the “fifth-largest corporate acquisition ever.” Reuters places the current value of SABMiller at $84.5 billion and believes it’s in ABI’s best interest “to move fast before SABMiller gets more expensive.” But would SABMiller be interested in selling? “SABMiller’s two top shareholders — cigarette maker Altria Group and the Santo Domingo family of Colombia, which own 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively — ‘may think this is as good as it gets,’ said another banker.” So that suggests that the people behind the curtain might be amiable to the buyout. A couple of years ago, writing about this very possibility of a merger, I recalled that when the AB/InBev merger went down, someone joked that eventually there would be just one international beer company and it would just be called “Beer.” I remember laughing at the time, but truth really is stranger than fiction. So who knows? It should be an interesting year.

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ABI Beer Brands …

plus …

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SABMiller Beer Brands …

Equals = ?

SABMiller Testing Beer Brewed For Women

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Depending on your perspective, there’s good and bad news for women who love beer. Yesterday, Marketwatch casually mentioned that “SAB Miller, the world’s second largest brewer, is testing a new line of lighter and sweeter beers. Executives are also planning new ad campaigns geared towards women.” Other CBS affiliates, such as WREG Memphis, picked up the story but added little, apart from saying the new line will be “brewed especially for the ladies.” That’s all the information there is, so far, not even the SABMiller website has any additional information or a press release, at least not yet.

But if you’re one of those of the female persuasion that can be reduced to the stereotype of only liking sweet flavors, and don’t mind being pandered to, this just may be the beer for you. But if you’re a real person, like pretty much every beer lover I know who also happens to be a woman, this is probably just going to piss you off. I honestly don’t understand why the big beer companies keep trying this. Has it ever worked, anywhere in the world? People who understand and can appreciate the complex flavors of a good beer, will like it, irrespective of their reproductive organs. So just make good beer, educate your customers about it, and beer lovers — male and female — will drink it. Why is that so hard?

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Two Beer Companies, 210 Beer Brands

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Today’s infographic is an interesting one, created by NPR. Entitled Two Beer Companies, 210 Brands, it shows all of the beer brands owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller across the globe. Below the map, there’s also a list of brands by country, color-coded by which beer giant owns or controls them. How accurate is it? Hard to say. It doesn’t appear to include line extensions, which would balloon the chart to many times its current size, but glancing at the list for the United states, it looks like it may be missing some, though to be fair I didn’t do a line by line comparison.

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Click here to see the chart full size.

More On The Possibility Of An ABI / SABMiller Merger

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You’ll no doubt recall the Interwebs were lit up last week with the idea of an Anheuser-Busch InBev merger with SABMiller, which was started by Credit Suisse analysts engaging in speculation. While there were some reports to the contrary, the two mega-beer companies were not in talks.

Yesterday, apparently Credit Suisse followed-up their report by saying, after fueling such a flurry of speculation, that “nobody in our diverse pool of responders indicated that we are off the mark.” They further suggest that ABI “could come knocking” on SABMiller’s door before the end of this year.

As usual, there’s more to it, such as stakes in Grupo Modelo are part of the equation. You can read more about those at Beer Business Daily, which again I heartily recommend that everyone get a subscription to Harry’s newsletter.

SABMiller May Buy Foster’s

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London’s Sunday Times is giving credence to the rumors and is reporting that SABMiller is seriously considering buying Carlton & United Breweries from the Foster’s Group, the makers of Foster’s, for $10.9 billion.

Earlier this year the Foster’s Group announced that next year that they would split their wine and beer divisions, and rumors began of potential buyers. Since SABMiller already owns the rights to Foster’s in the U.S. and India, speculation naturally centered on them, and now it looks likely they will make a bid for it. This would also give SABMiller Australia’s best-selling beer, Victoria Bitter, and a stronger presence throughout southeast Asia.

MillerCoors: Is A Global Merger Possible?

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Several sources are pointing out a Reuters interview last week with Peter Swinburn, head of MolsonCoors. In that interview, Swinburn suggests that while he considers his company to be a “buyer,” he doesn’t discount the notion that MolsonCoors could be a takeover target. He further remarked that “SABMiller, Molson’s partner in the MillerCoors joint venture, would be a natural fit as a buyer.” While going on to say he doesn’t believe that will happen, this is, after all, how these types of things begin. A rumor that’s denied and discounted by all involved parties becoming a reality is nothing new, so you never know. Currently SABMiller is the 2nd largest global beer company and MolsonCoors in sixth. Though a merger wouldn’t eclipse A-B InBev at the top spot, it would move them closer together. Only time will tell.