The giant gets bigger – AB InBev buys SABMiller

Anheuser-Busch InBev announced it has struck a deal with SABMiller to take over the brewer at £44 ($67.63) a share, about 14% higher than its initial offer last month. Reuters puts the value of the takeover proposal at $104.48 billion.

The combined company would have 31% of the global beer market. Heineken, the next biggest player, has 9% of the market.

Crucially for AB InBev, a deal would enable it to venture out more into the African and Australian markets where its might has yet to be felt in the way it is in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

The deal must still be approved by government regulators around the world and certain parts of the SABMiller operation will need to be sold in order to satisfy antitrust concerns. For instance, in the United States the new company would have 70% of the beer market. So it seems likely that Molson Coors will acquire SABMiller’s 58% stake in MillerCoors, their U.S. joint venture.

Although the scrutiny related to this deal is separate, that the U.S. Justice Department is probing allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev is seeking to curb competition in the beer market by buying distributors is certainly relevant.

In recent months, the company has purchased five distributors in three states. Many states require brewers to use distributors to sell their product, and once A-B InBev buys a distributor, craft companies say they find that they can’t distribute their beer as easily and sales growth stalls. Antitrust regulators are also reviewing craft brewers’ claims that A-B InBev pushes some independent distributors to only carry the company’s products and end their ties with the craft industry, two of the sources said, noting that the investigation was in its early stages.