AB InBev said it will explore the sale of SABMiller's European premium beer brands including Peroni and Grolsch to smooth the way for the £73.5 billion takeover of its main rival.
Meantime Brewing Co., the independent beermaker acquired this year by SABMiller, is also among the brands being considered for sale, AB InBev said in a statement Thursday.
Selling the assets would help to meet potential antitrust complications arising from AB InBev’s plan to acquire the maker of Castle lager, which would create a company controlling about half the industry’s profit. Molson Coors Brewing has already agreed to acquire SABMiller’s 58 per cent stake in MillerCoors for $12 billion, while a 49 per cent stake in China Resources Snow Breweries Co. may also need to be sold.
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Selling Peroni and Grolsch "would help reduce leverage and doesn’t make the SABMiller acquisition less attractive,” Javier Gonzalez Lastra, an analyst at Berenberg in London, said by phone. “They are attractive assets. They’re very well positioned, internationally recognised brands."
Peroni and Grolsch could fetch $1 billion to $1.2 billion, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Pablo Zuanic estimates. Potential buyers include Japan’s Kirin Holdings and Carlsberg, he said in a 30 November note.
"Divesting Peroni and Grolsch should have minimal effect on the upside" that the Budweiser maker will generate from buying SABMiller, Zuanic said. A sale "would be within our expectations, and we would see this as a positive sign if it paves the path to regulatory approval of the deal."
"These beers are loved by consumers and we are very proud of them," SABMiller Chief Executive Officer Alan Clark said in the statement. "Until the change of control we will continue to invest in growing these great beers and supporting our talented people who brew, sell and manage them."
Any sale would be conditional upon completion of AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller, the companies said.
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