Interbrew to bid for SAB?

Deal would make new company almost as big as Anheuser-Busch

Nov 28, 2001 - The Financial Times reports today that Belgian brewer Interbrew is preparing to bid for South African Breweries. Such a deal would join two of the world's largest brewers, reshape the global beer industry and perhaps spark more mergers.


The combination would make Interbrew, already the world's second largest brewer, just marginally smaller than Anheuser-Busch.

FT writes it has seen documents prepared that an approach could be announced on Dec. with the offer closing on Jan. 7. The documents refer to SAB by the codename "Zulu"; Interbrew was dubbed "Ice".

One of the reasons for such a deal would be to prevent the possible merger of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, Miller Brewing Co. and SAB.

SAB is attractive to Interbrew because of its emerging markets expertise and also because of its well-regarded Chinese operation. The documents said: "Provided that the strategic logic was clearly spelt out, we believe that the market reaction to such a deal on a merger basis would be positive."

Hugo Powell, Interbrew's chief executive, admitted that research on SAB had been carried out for Interbrew, but he said it was in the course of routine analysis of rival companies.

He denied that Interbrew was in the advanced stages of preparing an offer and said there had been no talks on the matter with SAB. The documents, which were destined to be presented to the Interbrew board, said further analysis was needed on potential cost savings and regulatory issues, including the likely reaction of the South African government, according to the FT.

Earlier this year, Interbrew bought German brewer Beck's, and last year it acquired Bass Brewers. It was forced to sell part of the Bass estate, Carling, in order to overcome regulatory opposition.

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