AB InBev Offering More Assets of SABMiller in Europe to Win EU Approval

The largest brewer in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev intends to sell the assets of SABMiller in Eastern Europe to secure the approval of regulators in the European Union for its takeover of $100 billion.

AB InBev has lined up already the sale of Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime to Asahi Group Holdings in Japan for more than 2.55 billion euros and Friday said that is put the SABMiller assets up for sale in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic.

It notified the antitrust regulator of the EU, the European Commission, which will give its verdict on the deal on or before May 24.

Many analysts were surprised at this latest news given that the brewer has little business across Eastern Europe outside of Russia and Ukraine.

If the EC chose to open its own investigation into the takeover of SABMiller, it would not be given clearance for 90 working days, which is a delay that AB InBev might want to avoid.

Valuations initially for the eastern European assets of SAB varied widely with analysts saying they ranged from $4 billion to over $7 billion, based upon price per volume or multiple of earnings.

Carlsberg, Heineken and Molson Coors could face some problems with antitrust of their own if the three wanted to purchase the assets, unless InBev sold them individually.

Another alternative is that Asahi could be looking to further expand into Europe or one of the many private equity firms might step into the fray.

AB InBev in a prepared statement said the disposal included many top brands in their respective markets, such as Dreher from Hungary and Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic.

The brewer said it is expecting to attract a considerable amount of interest from a number of interested buyers.

The sale of any asset would be conditioned on AB InBev completing its takeover of SABMiller, which is expected to take place officially during the second six months of 2016.

The divestment of assets in Eastern Europe could make approval by regulators easier though that area of Europe has not been part of the core business of AB InBev.

 

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